Savor Shade? Sow Small Trees

Have you ever seen people waiting for the bus trying desperately to shield themselves from the sun under the sliver of shade from a telephone pole?

Walkable streets and urban design may be trendy, but in Texas they need a shade component in order to work. The same goes for your landscape. Survey your yard, paying special attention to the areas that require extra shade to tolerate the sun. Then consider planting some small but shade-providing trees.

The best time of year for planting trees in San Antonio is from November to March. But don’t waste time pining for the biggest tree. Oaks and pecans may provide a lot of shade when fully grown, but they need a lot of room and time, too.

Here are a few trees we’d like more shade from:

  • Evergreens – For a southwestern vibe, try Arizona cypress, Anacacho orchid tree and evergreen sumac. ‘Byron’ viburnum, Mexican olive and European olive are also excellent.
  • Acacias – They might have thorns, but so do roses and bougainvilleas; plus, acacias are tough, allow excellent airflow and you can stand beneath them. Palo verde and Caesalpinia to the rescue!
  • Deciduous trees – We all love crape myrtles, but they can be slow growers. Instead, try desert willowEve’s necklace and Mexican plum.

The shade provided by smaller trees is ideal, as it can be positioned directly over walkways where it’s needed. And because small trees can be grown close together (and near power lines, buildings and cars), they can be just as effective as larger ones. They’re also easier to replace.

For more recommendations, check out Find a Plant here.

Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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