The average cooling bill for Florida residents is four times higher than anywhere else in the USA. Having mature, shade trees around your home has been shown to reduce costs by 40 percent. Furthermore, large trees on a property can also add 10 percent to the overall equity of the home.
There are other benefits to having trees on your property as well. Merely looking at them and hearing the wind rustle through their canopy can offer tranquility.
When planting large trees on your property, it’s imperative to install them a safe distance from your house. Here is a short guideline for safety:
- Small Tree (25 ft) – at least 10 ft from any wall, 8 ft from all corners
- Medium Tree (40 ft) – at least 15 ft from any wall, 12 ft from all corners
- Large Tree (40ft+) – at least 20 ft from any wall, 15 ft from all corners
Here are four fantastic shade trees that flourish in the Florida heat with very little maintenance.
Live Oak Tree
This generally refers to the southern live oak, an iconic tree of the south. The Live Oak tree can reach heights of 80 feet, and their canopy has been known to exceed that in width. The oval leaves grow anywhere from 2-5 inches, are a luxuriant dark green with a leathery texture. Known for their fast Growth, the Live Oak can grow another two feet tall each year. Needless to say, these gentle behemoths will provide dense shade for many decades to come.
Royal Empress Tree
This deciduous delight originated in western and central China was considered an invasive species, due to how prolifically it grows. The royal empress can grow to over 80 feet tall when unchecked and can attain a height of 30 ft in a few years with a 20 ft canopy. The leaves are heart-shaped with five lobes, growing to more than 16 inches in width. The aromatic blossoms appear in early spring and produce seeds in capsules that scatter in the wind and water. In the autumn the light green leaves transform into a goldy bronze, similar to aspen. The royal empress tree is generous with her gifts of shade and astounding esthetics, a great addition to any yard with space for her to grow.
Gumbo Limbo Tree
The Gumbo Limbo Tree is native to Southern Florida, the Caribbean, South and Central America. It can attain a height of 6-8 feet, from seed, in approximately 18 months. A fast grower, it can reach heights of over 70 ft. with a round and dense canopy, known to spread over 60 ft. in width. The leaves are ash-like with a fresh look that make for excellent shade in sweltering months. The cluster-like flowers arrive in early spring and transform into green berries. The Gumbo Limbo is one of the few Florida trees that sheds its leaves in the fall. You’ll enjoy watching the various incarnations of this shade-sharing tree throughout the year.
Southern Magnolia Tree
The Southern magnolia tree is native to North America and is a gorgeous addition to any property. Growing to heights of 50 ft with a canopy spread of 20-40 ft, this tree offers a dense, cooling shade unlike any other. The growth rate of the Southern magnolia is moderate, depending on the climate and soil conditions. The blossoms are as renowned for their heady perfume as they are for their dramatic, showy, snow-white perfection. The Southern magnolia will never disappoint with its exquisite beauty, heavenly fragrance, and heat busting shade.
You will be grateful for these wonderful shaders in the summer months, and your bank account will appreciate them even more. Now get planting and be prepared to turn down that AC.
Featured photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash