Some gardeners like it hot. I have friends who live more inland than me and love their summer weather of 90 degrees more. They certainly grow better and more tomatoes than those of the people on the coast, but that’s just a consideration. While some like it hot, I don’t. I like to be calm. Maybe it came from growing up in Alaska, but the “why” matters very little. Any temperature above 75 degrees F. (24 C.) absorbs my energy and makes me irritable. So, needless to say, I know some important tricks for fighting the heat in the summer.
Grow more trees for shade
Unless you live in the desert plains or in one of the polar areas, nature has provided wonderful and wonderful tools to avoid the summer barbecue. They are called trees. All you have to do is plant some trees and keep them watered to enjoy a cooler summer.
While evergreen trees provide shade all year round, deciduous trees do not. They show off bare branches in winter, they parade in spring, therefore, on hot summer days, their canopies are once again lush and green. This provides refuge for anyone who intends to remain calm by reducing the amount of sun hitting the skin.
Shade trees for your garden
Trees are not only perfect for sitting on a muggy summer day, but they can also keep the house and courtyard cool. Just as trees prevent the sun’s rays from hitting you, they can also limit the sunlight that strikes your home, patio and garden. This reduces the amount of energy that is absorbed and radiated back into the air.
But that is not all. Planting trees in your backyard also provides perspiration cooling. “Perspiration” refers to the way in which trees release water into the atmosphere from their leaves, not unlike the evaporation pads used to cool warm greenhouses. In trees, water moves from the soil into the roots of the tree, travels through its trunk to the branches, then into the leaves. The water is then released from the leaves in the form of a vapor, cooling the surrounding area.
The “best” shade trees for your garden will depend on the hardiness zone of your region and your personal preferences. Ever since I split time between the Basque Country of southwestern France and San Francisco, California, I have had a number of favorites for both areas.
In France, the climate drops to freezing in winter and reaches to the 90s in summer. My favorite shade trees are beech trees, with their white trunks and silvery canopies. I also like fast growing willows, paper birches and red oak.
The frost-free climate of San Francisco makes these shade trees unlikely. Instead, I plant trees native to the state, such as Monterey cypress evergreens. My favorite deciduous tree in the area is the imposing California horse chestnut tree. Both provide excellent shade and thrive on sandy soils.