Great Shade Trees for The Central Valley

With summer stepping on our heels, and with the intensity of Bakersfield summers, it’s only fit we talk about the best shade-giving trees for this area. Monji Landscape Companies has come up with a list of the Top 6 shade-giving tree varieties that flourish in this town. All the trees about to be mentioned not only over great protection from the sun during the summer, but they also look great in any landscape environment during the whole year.

Kicking things off in the #6 position is the Palo Verde tree. The Palo Verde is native to deserts, washes & valleys of southern California so it is tolerant to extreme heat and drought conditions. The tree needs full sun with plenty of reflected heat from the ground. It is extremely drought tolerant and requires infrequent but deep irrigation, once or twice a month. It usually develops a multi-trunked base with a broad oval canopy. If well-kept it can easily develop a spread of 20 feet while only being 15-25 feet tall. The Palo Verde’s leaves are approximately 1 inch long and are pale bluish-green in color. It sporadically re-flowers and during the spring its leaves can change to a bright yellow. They attract numerous pollinators, including beetles, flies and social and solitary bees. Numerous birds forage, perch and/or nest in the abundant branches.

In the #5 spot, we have the Cork Oak. The Cork Oak Tree is an evergreen that when established, it can become tolerant to heat and drought. Cork oaks are frequently used to line streets, in median strips and parks. The cork oak is also used as a shade tree and specimen plant in residential landscaping. It has a moderate growth rate and can grow to be quite large,20 to 60 feet tall If unkept. But with proper maintenance, it can be kept at a reasonable 20-30 feet height with an equal spread. The bark is the most unique feature of the plant, growing in thick layers that can be peeled away in large sheets from the trunk of the tree. The leaf of the Cork Oak is smooth dark green in color with elliptical form and wavy toothed edges. The leaves range from 1 to 3 inches long and 1 to 1 ½ inch wide. Also, during the spring tiny tassel-like yellow flowers occur on the Cork Oak.

With the #4 spot, we have the Flowering Pear Tree. The flowering pear tree (Pyrus calleryana) is one of the earliest and most beautiful spring-blooming trees. It adds ornamental value to any landscape, and has a high tolerance to tough, conditions such as pollution & drought. Sometimes called the ornamental pear, the flowering pear tree is a deciduous tree that requires very little attention and are popular as decorative trees in backyards as they attract a variety of birds. Most varieties of the white-flowering trees have rough bark and an oval or pyramidal shape which fits well in tight spaces. The original species can grow up to a height of 50 feet, but gardeners and proper upkeep can obtain a variety of shorter cultivars reaching a height of about 35 feet. The flowering pear produces a profusion of white blooms in the spring and a dazzle of red and orange leaves in the fall. The tree grows best when planted in the spring. Pruning generally takes place during winter and late fall, or in the spring after the tree stops blooming. It grows best in full sun, so the Bakersfield summer is of no worry to the Flowering Pear tree.

Continuing with the third spot is the California Sycamore Tree. The California Sycamore is native along the streams of valleys, foothills and mountains of coastal, central and southern California to Mexico. The California Sycamore is a majestic native with a rapid growth rate. In expansive landscapes, it can make a fine specimen tree. It will grow to 15-20 ft. in 5-10 years. Standout features include a peeling, mottled trunk; a spreading crown; heat and wind tolerance; and enormous size. This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping. This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year. Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. It is moderately drought-tolerant once well-established. It features large, leathery leaves that are 6–12" wide with 3–5 lobes and deep green coloring. Produces tiny green flowers in dense, round heads in the spring. It also grows in a pyramidal shape in youth, and develops a spreading, irregular, oval or rounded crown of heavy, large-diameter branches with age. The California Sycamore is best suited for large-scale landscapes. The California sycamore also provides food and nesting sites for birds including red-tailed hawks, woodpeckers and hummingbirds.

In the #2 spot in our countdown of the Top 6 best Shade Trees for Bakersfield we have the California Pepper Tree. A California Pepper Tree is a beautiful addition to any yard. Its drooping branches and bright green leaves provide a dramatic look that many say reminds them of a Weeping Willow Tree. There are many great things about a California Pepper Tree. For one, the tree keeps it vibrant color throughout the summer. Also, it is a fast-growing tree. That means the tree can reach its full height of 25 to 40 feet in several years. Of course, the downside to the fact that it is such a fast-growing tree is that frequent maintenance (i.e. pruning) is required in order to keep it looking its best. Still, many feel it is well worth the initial investment of time to have quick access to shade for their dogs and other animals. When planting a California Pepper Tree, you will have to be mindful of the fact that its roots tend to stay close to the surface. For that reason, it is best to give this tree a wide berth so that the root system will not interfere with any other landscaping elements. The rough grayish bark is twisted and drips sap. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed. The trees only require occasional irrigation and this makes them ideal trees for xeriscaping.

And finally, at the top of our list for the best shade trees in Bakersfield, is the Chinese Flame Tree. The Chinese Flame Tree is a broad-spreading, deciduous tree that reaches a height of 20 to 40 feet with an informal spreading form. Chinese Flame trees are drought tolerant and can tolerate poor drainage, poor soils, smog, and temperature extremes. Its versatility with gardening conditions as well as its magnificent shade capacity is what makes it be at the top of our list. It is a superb patio, shade, street, or specimen tree. Chinese flame tree is one of the few yellow-flowering trees in the landscape. In late spring, it litters the ground with perfumed petals, while beautiful, emerald foliage casts a cool and dappled shade. Then in summer clusters of papery, pink capsules appear, and as the summer turns to autumn the delicate pink turns to a rich salmon. The small, fragrant flowers appear in bright clusters and the beautiful flower clusters attract birds and bee. Chinese flame tree should be grown in full sun and only needs moderate watering. Once established it tolerates wind, air pollution, salt, heat, and drought. Its deep, non-invasive roots make it an approved street tree in many cities. Plant in narrow parkways and near patios.

Now that you know about the Palo Verde, the Cork Oak, the Flowering Pear, the California Sycamore, the California Pepper, and the Chinese Flame Trees, the Bakersfield summer is no match for the shade that these can provide.

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