Here in Utah, shade trees are highly valued for their beauty and the cool breezes they bring to our landscapes and gardens.
Before selecting your new trees, however, it’s important that you consider your objectives and how your new plants may affect your landscaping in the years to come. Also consider how much effort and resources your shade trees will require, once they reach a mature size.
Consider the Future of Your Landscaping and Shade Trees
Although it may look like a cute little sapling today, that tiny shade tree can turn into a towering behemoth in only a few years. And, if you don’t properly consider its future, it can cause you more problems than benefits.
Before planting any tree, make sure you understand how it will grow (up or out, for example). Will your desired location provide the right amount of light? Is irrigation or some other water source available? Will the tree interfere with power lines or the roof line when it grows larger?
Depending on how quickly your new shade trees grow, they will require a varying amount of care. Be sure you know how and when to feed or fertilize that species.
And what about maintenance? Will the tree require pruning? If so, once it grows to full height, you may need the services of an arborist. Will it drop leaves or fruit? Will it be prone to pest problems?
Choose the Right Shade Tree for Your Needs
If you are willing to invest the time and money to care for your shade trees, you can select a more labor-intensive species. Otherwise, choose landscaping trees that require less maintenance.
Generally, small shade trees require between three and five feet of clear space when planting. For medium-sized trees, allow five to eight feet and, for large trees, expect to need a minimum of eight feet.
Utah State’s Extension offers a helpful tree browser, to assist you in learning more about different species.
Choose Native Utah Trees When Possible
In northern Utah, many shade trees are not native to our area, and that can create a variety of challenges if you choose to plant one or more of these species.
Plant species that are native to other parts of the country, especially those from different climate zones, require extra care. This often comes in the form of high water needs, which can be costly and a waste of limited resources.
You may also have to provide fertilizers and pest control products that would not normally be necessary for a native species of Utah shade tree. Some types can even be harmful to our local ecology.
The Russian olive, for example, has become overgrown to the point that it prevents native plants and wildlife from accessing natural water supplies. Birch trees are also potentially harmful. Their shallow roots can rob water from nearby plants, essentially choking them out.
The expert staff at Millcreek Gardens knows trees. Because we have decades of experience in the Salt Lake City area, we know the challenges of our local soils and climate. Stop by and visit us today, and tell us what you hope to achieve with your landscaping. We will be happy to recommend the most appropriate Utah shade trees for you!