Vine Maple Vine Maple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is perhaps on the most sweltering days of summer that the cooling shade of trees is most appreciated- or missed. If your thoughts are turning to what to plant for future summer shade, here are a few ideas. On larger properties where space is ample, don’t overlook the potential for Big Leaf Maple, (Acer macrophyllum) (#M315), a Pacific Northwest native, to develop into classic shade tree dimensions. Where space is more limited, Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) (#M300), another Pacific Northwest native, can be trained to a single trunk for a moderate sized shade tree. Vine Maple is our primary native source of fall red and orange color.

Are you in a hurry to get your shade? The Empress Tree (#M580) is one of the fastest growing shade trees available to growers in mild winter areas, growing quickly to 20’, then more slowly up to 40’ tall. Tree serviceberries, maples, black locust (particularly Frisia), birch, and nut trees are all beautiful shade trees, and some produce food for you as well. Take a good look at your property, and choose a shade tree that will not overgrow your space. Locate your tree where leaves and other falling debris will not be a nuisance in your gutter, or on your sidewalk. You can also create shade by putting up a sturdy structure and training a vine over it, such as grapes, kiwi, akebia, or honeysuckle - a useful technique where root zone space is limited.