Shade Tress Help Combat the Urban Heat Island
September 24, 2019
Plant More Shade Trees
As we wish another hot Texas summer farewell, there’s no denying Dallas is getting hotter and has a growing heat island. In fact, the details of a 2017 study with the Texas Trees Foundation shows that Dallas is heating up so fast, it is only exceeded by one other city in the country, Phoenix. That’s a list no one wants to top!
Warming urban temperatures mean we need to plant more trees to create more shade. But before you start planting, it’s important to know that proper plant choice is just an important as the act of planting. Planting too many of the same species results in monocultures that can be wiped out by pests and diseases. Planting the wrong species in the wrong place can mean it will need to be removed or heavily pruned for power lines. Planting thoughtfully is just as important.
Adding diversity to the urban forest will make it healthier and help reduce the effects of Dallas’ heat island.
If you’re looking to do your part to boost the urban forest, and need to add shade to your property, here are a few of our tree recommendations for you to consider:
Oak wilt is a major cause of concern for the live and red oak populations in Texas. As dire of a situation Oak Wilt could be, you can still plant oak trees for shade. Monterrey Oak, also called Mexican white oak, is not as susceptible to the disease, and is very drought tolerant once established. It’s a medium sized shade tree, growing up to 40’, and will work well for most urban locations and properties.
Need another choice for oaks? Chinquipin Oak is another good option.
Bald cypress are excellent fast-growing shade trees that can reach up to 100’. It is a deciduous conifer, so you get soft green, needle-like leaves that turn copper-brown in the fall. Bald cypress do well in poor soils and are adapted to drought and flooding conditions alike.
One of the larger trees on our list, Cedar Elms can grow to reach 90’. Therefore, they are best suited to large lots – not to close to power lines. This Texas native and drought tolerant tree turns a beautiful yellow in the fall.
If you want a tree that stands out in the fall- Chinese Pistache is the one for you! The mid-sized shade tree grows 40-50’ wide and 30’ tall and turns a stunning bright red in the fall. This is a good choice for tighter urban lots where larger trees are not a good fit.
While many of the smaller hybrid maples certainly are beautiful, they don’t always perform well for us in North Texas. Bigtooth maple, on the other hand is a Texas native that reaches 50’ in height relatively quickly. Big tooth maples are known for their gorgeous orange and red fall color and heat tolerance. They are native to central Texas limestone soils, but are adapted to our local clay soils.
Ginkgo are such interesting trees because they are one of the oldest species in the world. Their fan shaped leaves turn bright golden-yellow in fall. Ginkgo are adapted to many soil types and are also pollution and drought tolerant. They often reach 35-50’ in height and make stunning specimens in the landscape.
To learn how we plant trees, read here.
To further the important task of addressing Dallas’ growing heat island, Preservation Tree Services, Inc. and its Consulting Group has been selected to work alongside Texas Trees Foundation, Davey Resource Group, and the City of Dallas to establish the city’s first comprehensive urban forest master plan. The master plan will establish standardized processes for keeping the existing trees healthy and identify the best places to plant additional trees to mitigate heat. Sustainable best management practices will then be shared and utilized by all departments that interact with Dallas’ urban forest canopy.