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Best shade trees for the farm

Know your early and late maturing trees

Scott Woodbury

March 14, 2019

8 Slides
redbud tree

Creating shade in a yard from full sun can take decades. However, there is a trick to speed up the process — interplanting.

This technique calls for planting a mix of canopy tree species with understory trees. Understory trees allow for short-term shade for about three to five years. The long-term shade trees or canopy trees provide shade starting in Year 10 and extending out as far as 30 years.

Redbud, wild plum, persimmon and hornbeam grow quickly and begin to provide a small amount of shade in three to five years. Of the large shade trees, shortleaf pine, bur oak, swamp white oak and black gum grow the fastest, up to 25 feet, and with good soil present, provide decent shade in 10 years.

When starting with full sun, plant canopy and understory trees first. Then, as shade patterns get big enough, consider adding color by planting ferns and other shade-loving perennials and grasses. As the trees cast more shade, plant more ferns and perennials to expand planting beds incrementally over time.

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