As a homeowner, you’ve probably heard how important trees are to your property value. Truly, money does grow on trees when it comes to resale, as mature trees can add thousands of dollars in profit. And fall is the optimal time to plant because cooler temps allow trees to establish root systems before the Spring/Summer. Just remember to water throughout the winter as soil moisture is essential for proper establishment. Money magazine estimates that landscaping can bring up to a 200% return at selling time (take that, remodeled kitchens and baths which bring a paltry 125%).
Of course, trees also improve health, lower anxiety and produce more sociable neighborhoods. They can also reduce your heating and cooling costs. In Hotlanta, our residential streets and sidewalks can greatly benefit from trees. Because some shade trees can take years to grow, many homeowners purchase less expensive (and smaller) flowering trees like Redbuds and Crepe Myrtles. Yet consider that it’s worth investing in shade trees as they promise to delight the generations ahead of us who will enjoy and benefit from the trees we plant today.
Here’s a list of the five top shade tree varieties for metro Atlanta:
Northern Red Oak are great street trees because they tolerate pollution and compacted soil well. This tree grows to 60 to 75 feet tall and provides a lot of shade. The leaves are alternate, simple, 4 to 8 inches long with pointy lobes. Something to consider: Oak = acorns. And it takes 20 years before they begin producing acorns. Oak trees produce more nuts annually than ALL other kinds of tree nuts combined.
American Linden (Basswood) trees can reach a height of 60 – 120 feet and live up to 200 years. American Lindens grow faster than many North American hardwoods. Its flowers provide abundant nectar for insects. Chipmunks and squirrels love to dine on their seeds.
Princeton American Elm is a modern day, disease resistant version of the mighty American Elm that ruled US and Canadian avenues years ago. They even grace the boulevard in front of the White House. Reaching a height of 80 – 100 feet tall, mature elms are wonderful shade trees with superior horticultural and ornamental features. They grow 3-6’ a year and thrive in virtually all environmental conditions including wet, dry and windy.
Gingkos are great ornamental, deciduous trees with distinctive fan-shaped leaves that change to a golden yellow in the fall. In fact, Frank Lloyd Wright, the renown Chicago architect, built his own home and studio around a Ginkgo tree. The trees are also easy to grow, needing only a sunny location with well-drained soil. The trees grow well in both the country and the city. Ginkgo trees are virtually pest- and disease-free. It’s worth considering planting a male Gingko as female trees yield fruit that produces an offensive odor when the fruit begins to rot on the ground.
Sugar Maples are one of America’s best-loved trees. Maples are as the most commonplace native tree in eastern North America. It’s no surprise they’re so popular since their showy red/orange fall foliage is a wonder to behold. They make a statement in any landscape with their big canopy of wide, hand-shaped leaves.
Sugar maples grow at a moderate pace to 60 feet tall or so with a tidy, oval-to-rounded shape and is considered both a shade AND ornamental tree.