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Add shady trees to your gardening 'to-plant list'

Being a home owner isn't just about bricks and mortar: the likelihood is that you also have some land to attend to. As well as transforming your garden into your own sanctuary, there are a few additions that you might want to invest in when gardening to provide your outdoor area with some natural assets. Here's a comprehensive guide to picking and planting a shade tree, and why it could add value to your garden area.

Add shady trees to your gardening 'to-plant list'

A sophisticated parasol

On those hot summer days when it's hard to find a cooling sanctuary outdoors, shade trees provide the perfect solution. Your chosen tree should be large and leafy, with enough space between the canopy and the ground for you to sit and relax under. Properly placed shade trees can keep a home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, taking as much as 25 per cent off utility bills. According to the University of Purdue in Indiana, sitting under a shade tree provides the equivalent of an SPF 10 sun screen. This natural parasol also cleans the air of pollutant particles and nurtures its own eco-system at the same time.

A treasured toy

As anyone who had a favourite tree growing up will know, trees can be an important part of childhood playtime. As places to swing, climb and hide, they provide a valuable opportunity to learn about and experience nature, which we all know is becoming harder to achieve for the youth of today. Growing a tree from a seed or a sapling is more than just about gardening for children too, as it teaches them about responsibility and nurturing.

An all-year asset

A tree is for life, not just for summer. A deciduous tree will lose its leaves in the fall, letting light into your property just when you need it the most. You might also want to choose one for its autumn colour as this can brighten up your outdoor area with colour, and also increase your curb appeal if you're looking to sell. A mature shade tree can boost property values by as much as 20 per cent according to some studies.

A home for wildlife

Choosing a tree with fruits enjoyed by local birds and wildlife is a great way to help the environment while brightening your garden. Berries add colour to an otherwise cold garden in wintertime and they provide vital food sources for birds and wildlife.

So, why buy native?

While a foreign ornamental tree might have the right aesthetic you're looking for, consider the impact of bringing in non-natives. Native trees naturally thrive in your local conditions so they have a better chance of success. Non-natives not only have a lower chance of successful growth but they may even bring harmful pests, diseases or stifling growth rates with them. The movement of trees for ornamental value has a lot to answer for in the spread of tree disease, so sticking to a local tree species can be beneficial for the environment as well as the aesthetic of your garden.

Maintaining your shade tree

As with all good things, trees take a little work to fit in your well-maintained garden. When you first plant your seedling, usually in autumn or early spring, it will probably need a lot of water and some food depending on the species, to help it root. Many types of tree also require pruning through the years, and for some fruiting trees, you may even wish to trim them strategically to encourage a better crop. Its also worth checking for pests and diseases. Unusual marks on the bark, withered leaves and odd growths could all signal something isn't right, so check with an arborist if you have any concerns.

While your green fingers may be itching to get gardening it’s important to ask yourself three things before you get planting.

1. Where should the tree be?
2. How big can I afford for it to be?
3. And which type of tree best suits my needs?

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