It’s hot here in the Valley of the Sun all year ‘round, as you know. So, shade solutions to help cool your home and provide comfortable outdoor living space is a priority for homeowners. Fortunately, there are a variety of effective options for creating shady outdoor areas that are many degrees cooler than the same spaces exposed to direct sunlight. In the desert, shade means freedom to enjoy days relaxing on your patio and landscaped areas of your property. Here are some suggestions from Think Green Design for creating the shade you need in your Arizona landscaping.
The Ideal Shade Trees for Your Arizona Home
Planting trees is a wonderful way to create shade because they’re so precious in the desert and because trees give you so much more. Trees add great beauty to a natural desert landscape. That means that trees upgrade the aesthetic value of your home in the private outdoor living space(s) and increase its curb appeal on the public-facing side(s) of the property.
Trees near your house can also help protect your home from intense sun, which can help significantly reduce your monthly electricity bills for cooling and prevent premature deterioration of windows, flooring, window treatments, furniture, artwork, and other personal possessions. That’s why planting trees is a top recommendation from residential energy-efficiency experts.
In addition to reducing carbon emissions from electricity for cooling buildings, trees also absorb CO2, emit oxygen, and provide habitat for birds and other wildlife. That’s why planting trees is so strongly encouraged by environmental health experts.
For tough, durable desert trees that withstand all of the harsh elements of the U.S. southwest desert environment while providing crucial shade for people and wildlife, mesquites are amazing. They do not require watering or maintenance after they’re fully established, and they offer special character in their unique shapes for a very special form of desert beauty.
Various species of Palo Verde trees make beautiful additions to native Sonoran Desert landscapes. They’re self-sustaining, so they don’t require watering or other maintenance after they’re established, and they offer a delicate light green contrast to the darker green of other desert plants.
Mulga is a species of deciduous evergreen with unique bluish, needle-shaped foliage and cylindrical yellow flowers. This robust desert tree is an ideal complement to any Sonoran Desert landscape. It requires very little care. Mulga trees actually thrive especially well in rocky, sandy, clay-filled soil..
Bonita means “pretty” in Spanish. The bonita tree is famous for its lush green canopy. It requires very little watering or maintenance after it is fully established. The bonita ash is an excellent choice for Arizona residential landscaping. It does not produce seed pods, so it doesn’t require seasonal cleanup and the leaves turn a beautiful gold color in the autumn, even in the desert.
Chinese elms are a hardy species that thrives in Arizona landscapes. This elm species offers all the shade of North American elms with its spectacular canopy. It’s very resistant to diseases that have been known to plague Dutch elm and withstands even the roughest desert conditions.
The jacaranda is actually a sub-tropical tree common in South America. It has proven to thrive in so many other regions of the world that it has become globally popular for landscapes in the U.S. and elsewhere. It is a beautiful and durable tree that produces pretty pale purple flowers.
The acacia, also called mimosa, is a species of bushes and trees known for their beautiful flowers. But, the acacia is also a very rugged tree, popular with landscape designers for their long-term durability as well as their uniqueness. Acacia thrive in arid climates with high heat and low water, making them ideal for desert landscapes.
Also called the desert ironwood, this tree is a flowering species that is indigenous to the southwest U.S. Sonoran Desert. So, ironwood trees naturally require no watering or maintenance after they are fully established and provide a lifetime of shade and beauty.
Placing Structures for Shade
For a broader solution to the need for shade in the desert, many homeowners in the Phoenix area choose to install permanent or temporary shade structures. These offer versatility in outdoor living spaces, increasing the ways a space can be used for people who spend a lot of time outdoors.
Covered Patios and Decks
If you’re ready to create the ultimate outdoor living space for your Arizona home, it may be time to choose a permanent structure like a wood or clay tile deck or patio roof for complete shade. Developing a covered outdoor living space enables an exceptional lifestyle that can include a full outdoor kitchen, entertainment center, an all-weather fireplace, and upgraded furniture.
Pergolas are very popular alternatives to fully covered patios in the desert. A pergola offers mitigated direct sunlight for a more comfortable time outdoors. Many pergola owners opt to grow vines like bougainvillea, mandevilla, or wisteria for superb beauty and cooling. Another popular practice is hanging plants in these structures for greatly increased effectiveness in shading and cooling. Pergolas that are used to feature lush green or colorful flowering plants make some of the most vibrant and inviting outdoor living places in Arizona.
Backyard Shade Cloths
For summertime shade to escape the hottest temperatures of the year, temporary structures like window or patio awnings, large canvas table umbrellas, outdoor draperies, and shade sails offer excellent relief. These items are easily moved to allow repositioning for optimal shading wherever you want it, as the sun’s proximity to the horizon changes throughout the year.
More Options for Shade At Your Desert Home
As you can see, there are abundant low-water and no-water solutions for creating shade on residential properties in the Sonoran Desert. To add spots of shade at lower heights for protecting smaller plants, add beauty, and create scale for your landscape design, you can add heat- and drought-resistant mid-sized plantings:
Smaller Trees: These can include smaller flowering desert bushes and tree species like crape myrtle, creosote, desert willow, and others.
Cacti: Of course, a variety of cactus species is essential for shading smaller plants and general enrichment of desert landscapes. Consider ocotillos, barrel, prickly pear, and hedgehog, most of which species are flowering, among many other options.
Succulents: Add succulents like agave, yucca, aloe vera, jade, haworthia, and others for even more shade and desert lushness.
Place a mix of the above plant types strategically around patios and elsewhere in your landscape. They’re ideal for shading smaller plants, adorning water features, and adding beautiful indigenous accents that reflect and enhance the natural environment on your property.
For Optimum Shade in Gorgeous Arizona Landscapes – Think Green
We work closely with homeowners to understand your unique landscaping needs and ideas. Our award-winning landscape design and development experts bring many years of experience to help you fully realize your vision for your outdoor space. We will help you achieve a beautiful and functional landscaping solution for your home.
Call Think Green Design | Build Landscape at (480) 922-9497 to schedule a consultation with an expert.