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The 20 Best Trees for Summer Shade

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If you’ve been trying to find a way to keep the harsh Aussie summer sun in check while giving your garden a little makeover, this is the article for you. Shade trees are the healthiest and most natural way to cool down temperatures outdoors. The shade they provide can be extremely satisfying, and in winter and autumn when the leaves fall, they’ll let in as much light as possible.

You might think that trees will relieve hot temperatures by blocking out the sun’s rays, but in reality they do so much more. As hot air flows through the leaves and branches, there is a temperature decrease as moisture from the tree evaporates, which also increases oxygen levels. In addition, the shade reduces sun glare.

A shade tree will make the view of your garden look majestic, provide a great place for kids to play or read a book, and a perfect habitat for birds and wildlife. Once the tree has grown, it won’t need much looking after. Just remember to keep it watered regularly for the first year of its life, prune it when necessary, and keep it fertilised.

1. Ghost maple

This is a strong, resilient, and fast growing tree that reaches a height of five to six metres when grown, and has attractive yellow edged leaves. The second variety of the three, the Ashleaf maple, is characterised by its green and white leaves. Any reverting shoots should be removed if these appear for any of these two varieties. This tree is perfect for a small to medium sized garden.

2. Japanese maple

This tree grows to be about six to eight metres tall and is another great tree for small to medium sized gardens. This beautiful maple has leaves that turn bright red, orange, and yellow in autumn, and comes in different varieties that display different leaf colours and shapes. This is a shallow rooting tree that will thrive in a moist spot in the garden, sheltered from cold winds.

3. Cape Chestnut

This tree, contrary to its name, has nothing to do with the chestnut tree family, and is actually more related to the citrus family. It grows to be 8 – 20 metres tall, with a broad crown. The Cape Chestnut produces beautiful pink flowers in bunches from mid to late spring, and its leaves are smooth and aromatic. In colder climates, the Cape Chestnut is a deciduous tree, however in warmer areas it’s evergreen.

4. Leopard tree

Native to Brazil, this medium to large sized tree can reach up to 20 metres tall. Characterised by a leopard patterned bark and attractive bright yellow flowers that appear in spring, the roots of this tree grow deep. The Leopard tree thrives in subtropical areas, and you can find it in large quantities walking down the streets of Darwin.

5. Pride of Barbados

Native to the West Indies and tropical America, this medium sized bush can grow into a small tree, reaching up to four metres in height. It has attractive red and yellow flowers in summer and autumn, and needs special pruning in its early years to give it that ‘tree shape’. The Pride of Barbados thrives in subtropical and tropical areas, although it will also grow well in colder parts of the world.

6. Poinciana

Originally from Madagascar, the Ponciana is very popular in Brisbane and can grow up to ten metres tall, although it is usually around 3 – 5 metres. However it has a much broader spread so it will need space to develop. During spring, bright orange flowers bloom. The Poinciana will grow better in tropical and subtropical areas.

7. Golden Ash

This round shaped tree grows to be around 6 – 12 metres tall. It’s a beautiful tree in every season, with its spring, autumn, and even winter leaves a golden yellow. While young, its shoots have to be removed for a proper growth, and when it’s established and older it is a very resistant tree.

8. Desert Ash

Widely used in the streets and parks of Victoria and South Australia, where it’s now naturalised, Desert Ash reaches 10-15 metres in height and is a very fast growing tree in both hot or dry conditions. Its leaves turn various shades of yellow and gold in autumn, and flowers appear in winter when the tree has no leaves.

9. Jacaranda

Very popular throughout Australia, this beautiful tree is a Brazil native. Growing up to be 10 – 15 metres tall, it has a broad crown and deep, strong roots. Beautiful, small light purple flowers appear in spring. Be mindful, the flowers will fall and it could be difficult to get rid of them, so have this in mind when choosing where to plant the Jacaranda. They also require lots of water in summer, and it’s best if you don’t prune them.

10. Golden Rain tree

Native to Taiwan and Eastern Asia, this is a fast growing and strong tree that grows up to 12 metres with a broad round shape. In summer, small yellow flowers appear in little bunches. The seeds of this tree are edible when roasted, although they’re rarely consumed.

11. Oak

The Oak tree has its origins in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has more than 600 varieties. They’re large in size so would suit a larger garden. The Oak tolerates warm and hot summers, but needs cooler winters. It needs a large amount of water and its wood is characterised by its strength and resistance.

12. Golden Robinia

This fast growing, oval shaped tree can be a great addition to your garden as it’s very pleasing to the eye as well as great for providing shade. It grows to be about 10 metres tall and 8 metres wide. The lime green leaves of the Golden Robinia turn a golden yellow in autumn, and white, dense, fragrant flowers appear in spring.

13. Trumpet trees

The Trumpet tree can grow to be around 6 to 2 metres tall. It’s well known for its amazing flower display, when the whole tree is filled with yellow, pink, and mauve shades during spring and summer.

14. Irish Strawberry tree

This evergreen, dense, medium sized tree grows to be around 6 – 8 metres tall. It has dark green leaves and its flowers resemble lilies. After it blossoms, the tree produces a strawberry-like fruit, which ripens when it turns from green to yellow. The Irish Strawberry grows well in both warm and cold temperatures, and no pruning is required.

15. Carob

Native to the Mediterranean, this strong, adaptable, and resistant small tree grows to be 5 to 6 metres tall, with dark green leaves and dense foliage. It has small, red flowers which are followed by the production of pods that taste like chocolate and have a high source of nutrients.

16. Red Flowering Gum

This small to medium evergreen eucalypt grows to be 12 metres tall with a broad canopy. Red Flowering Gums are great for coastal locations and dry soil, and will grow in most parts of Australia except for tropical zones. Red or pink flowers will appear in summer.

17. Tulipwood

This Aussie native is small to medium in size and grows well in rainforest and subtropical areas. It has dense foliage and can reach up to 10 metres high when grown in most gardens. It’s characterised by its dark green leaves, red fruit, and black seeds. It’s a popular street tree in Brisbane but has also been planted widely in Sydney.

18. Himalayan Magnolia

Native to Southeast Asia, this evergreen has light green foliage and grows up to be 15 metres tall. It has strongly scented yellow-orange flowers in summer, and it grows best in cooler temperature climates. It needs full sun and constant watering.

19. Native Daphne

Native to east Australia, this is a small tree that can reach 6 metres in height. Even though it’s considered small, it is actually quite dense and wide. The leaves are dark green and glossy, and its flowers are white and fragrant.

20. Pepper tree

Native to the Peruvian Andes, this evergreen grows to be 8 – 10 metres tall and wide, so it needs lots of space to develop. It’s a beautiful tree with fine leaves, and the top branches tend to drop. As long as the soil isn’t excessively wet, it grows well in cooler areas as well as hot and dry climates.

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