In hot, sunny Southern California, many homeowners want to escape the heat but still enjoy the outdoors. Shade is vital for any lawn – for pleasure, comfort, and plant survival. Planting shady trees can be an ideal solution to this problem. They provide heat relief you and your garden need while giving you an out-in-nature feel. Read on to find out which trees are the best shade trees for Southern California.
Best Shade Trees for Southern California
1. Silk Tree
Suitable for those with smaller gardens, the silk tree originally hails from Asia. It can reach a height and width of 40 feet at its max and grows quickly. However, regular pruning can maintain a more petite size if you want to keep it small. Silk trees grow stunning pink flowers atop their branches and can be planted with minimal effort. These trees provide a good amount of light shade that still allows for grass to grow underneath.
Although you may not recognize the Jacaranda name, you will remember this distinct purple tree that grows throughout Southern California! Its colorful flowers are a vibrant addition to any home’s landscaping. A jacaranda tree’s fern-like leaves provide a lot of shade, but this is one of the more challenging plants on this list. Its beautiful flowers can be messy to clean up as well!
3. Camphor Tree
Camphor trees are evergreen shade trees perfectly suited to dry Southern California weather. They are hardy and drought-resistant, requiring little water and maintenance. Camphor trees are large, maturing between 50 and 60 feet, with sprawling branches perfect for climbing or a backyard tree play home. They take a while to grow, so make sure you procure a tree well into adolescence.
4. Fern Pine
The Fern Pine, known around nurseries as a Podocarpus, is a shade tree that hails from Africa. This pes-, disease-, and insect-free tree is perfect if you’re looking for a clean yard. Its leaves are tiny and needle-shaped, meaning no raking. The fern pine is a slowly maturing tree, but its 50-70 foot height and 20-30 feet of shady width make it worth the wait. Experts often regard the fern pine as one of the best shade trees for Southern California.
5. Brazilian Pepper
If you have a small area you want to keep shaded, the Brazilian Pepper tree is for you. Its heavy, dense foliage will provide plenty of bang for your buck – keeping the surrounding areas dark and cool. Brazilian Pepper trees can grow up to 25 feet in height, but be careful, its branches can hang low, so plan your space accordingly!
There are over 200 species of magnolias, and many of these plants are well suited to Southern California. Magnolia varieties differ considerably, so you can always find a type suited to the size and shape of your yard and needs. All magnolias have colorful, fragrant flowers. They provide generous shade and grow fruit that will attract birds to your home in autumn.
7. Texas Umbrella Tree
The Texas Umbrella Tree is a perfect addition to a Southern California desert-scape yard. If you live in one of the hotter, drier areas of the state, this fast-growing shade tree is ideal. It is tolerant of soil variations and weather conditions. It produces small purple flowers in spring and yellow fruits in autumn. It is not suited to coastal or windy areas but is perfect for those who have trouble growing other trees with minimal water.
8. Australian Willow
The Southern California area has had record hot, dry weather the past few years, causing an alarming increase in wildfires. For residents of at-risk areas, the Australian Willow is the perfect shade tree for you. These evergreen trees are fire-resistant because they store water in their leaves. Australian willows are also drought-resistant.
9. Carrotwood Tree
The Carrotwood tree is a small, slow-growing tree that reaches about 30 to 40 feet at maturity. It has a delicate, leafy appearance and provides light to moderate shade under its 20-foot width. Carrotwood trees can have one or multiple trunks and are perfect for smaller gardens. They wilt when planted in too much water, so make sure your plant is well-drained!
10. Reed Avocado
Avocados are all the rage these days, so what is better than having your tree? Reed avocado trees are among the larger varieties and one of the quickest to mature. It is a dense, evergreen tree, making it an excellent choice to add shade to your yard. However, ensure the area is well-irrigated because these trees require wet soil.
White Mulberry: The Fastest Growing Shade Tree in Southern California
Mulberry trees are multifunctional – they provide excellent shade coverage, and their blackberry-like fruit can be harvested for jams or used in recipes. This tree is the fastest-growing fruit tree and is easy for those without a green thumb (yet!). It’s drought-resistant and only needs some well-draining soil, and within three years, you will have up to 20 feet of shade!
Maple Tree: The Cleanest Shade Tree in Southern California
Maple trees originate from the eastern USA but can adapt well to the Southern California climate. Although they prefer wet soil, they are surprisingly hardy and drought-tolerant once they begin maturing. Maple trees are beautiful in all seasons, making them a unique addition to any yard.
Design Scapes to Plant Your Shade Trees
If you are looking for help selecting the best shade tree for your Southern California lawn, contact Design Scapes today. Our thoughtful landscaping designs and advice have developed through years of experience in the landscaping industry. Reach out today for expert help creating your dream yard!