6 Best Trees to Plant for Shade in Texas Hill Country

Best Trees to Plant for Shade in Texas Hill Country‚Äč

We are often asked: what best trees should be planted for shade here in the Hill Country? The folks over at Pedernales Electric have created this chart to guide your choice of shade trees, and replacing cleared cedar.

What trees should be planted for shade here in the Hill Country?

texas-mountain-laurel-tree

Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

These evergreen shrubs can grow 10-20 feet high. Consider using this flowering plant to create attractive shade around your HVAC unit and help increase its efficiency up to 10%.

Benefits

  1. Ornamental Beauty: Texas Mountain Laurel is prized for its ornamental value. The plant’s evergreen foliage, beautiful clusters of purple-blue flowers, and neat growth habit make it an attractive addition to landscapes and gardens.

  2. Fragrance: The grape-like fragrance of Texas Mountain Laurel flowers is one of its most beloved features. The sweet scent is not only pleasant for humans but also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies.

  3. Wildlife Attraction: The fragrant flowers of Texas Mountain Laurel attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. By planting this shrub, you can contribute to the health of local pollinator populations.

  4. Drought Tolerance: Texas Mountain Laurel is well adapted to arid and drought-prone environments. It requires minimal water once established, making it an excellent choice for water-wise and xeriscaped gardens.

quercus-laceyi

Lacey oak (Quercus laceyi)

A small to mid-sized landscape tree with deep blue-green foliage, this oak wilt-resistant species provides great shade for south-facing windows with its low-spreading crown.

Benefits

  1. Drought Tolerance: Lacey Oak is well adapted to arid and semi-arid regions. It has a high level of drought tolerance, making it an excellent choice for water-efficient landscaping and xeriscaping.

  2. Wildlife Habitat: The acorns produced by Lacey Oak provide an important food source for wildlife such as squirrels, deer, and various bird species. The tree’s branches and foliage can also offer shelter and nesting sites for birds.

  3. Erosion Control: The extensive root system of Lacey Oak helps stabilize soil, reducing erosion on slopes and hilly terrain.

  4. Air Quality Improvement: Like other trees, Lacey Oak contributes to improved air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Trees also help filter pollutants from the air, promoting a healthier environment

Post oak (Quercus stellata)

Post oak (Quercus stellata)

Another oak wilt-resistant species that can grow in poor rocky soil, this stately tree will produce great shade for your home. It can reach heights as tall as 50 feet.

Benefits

  1. Wildlife Habitat: The acorns produced by Post Oak serve as a crucial food source for various wildlife, including deer, squirrels, turkeys, and other bird species. The tree’s branches and foliage can also provide shelter and nesting sites for birds and small mammals.

  2. Erosion Control: The extensive root system of Post Oak helps stabilize soil, making it effective in reducing erosion on slopes and in areas with challenging soil conditions.

  3. Carbon Sequestration: Like other trees, Post Oak contributes to carbon sequestration, helping mitigate the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  4. Air Quality Improvement: Trees, including Post Oak, play a role in improving air quality by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. They help filter out particulate matter and other contaminants from the air.

Burr oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Burr oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

This large growing, oak wilt-resistant species can provide enough shade for your entire home. Its attractive bark and unique acorns make it a great specimen tree for your yard.

Benefits

  1. Native Landscaping: As a native species, Burr Oak is well-suited for use in native landscaping and ecological restoration projects. Planting native species helps maintain the health and balance of local ecosystems.

  2. Educational Value: Burr Oak can be used in educational settings to teach about native plants, wildlife, and ecological relationships.

  3. Medicinal and Cultural Uses: Indigenous peoples have historically used various parts of the Burr Oak tree for medicinal and cultural purposes. For example, parts of the tree were used in traditional medicine and basket weaving.

  4. Biodiversity Support: By planting Burr Oak and other native species, you contribute to creating habitats that support local insects, pollinators, and other wildlife.

Pecan-plant

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Hardy pecans can handle the heat and grow best in full sunlight up to heights of 65 feet. Plant this tree in areas where nuts will not disturb walkways and gutters.

Benefits

  1. Nut Production: Pecan trees produce nutritious and flavorful nuts that are enjoyed by people and wildlife alike. Pecans are a popular ingredient in cooking and baking and are rich in healthy fats, protein, and nutrients.

  2. Economic Value: Pecan cultivation has significant economic importance. Pecan nuts are commercially harvested, contributing to the agricultural industry and providing income for farmers.

  3. Wildlife Habitat: Pecan trees provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including squirrels, birds, and insects. The nuts are an important food source for these animals, contributing to local ecosystems.

  4. Shade and Cooling: The large, spreading canopy of Pecan trees provides ample shade, making them valuable for shading homes, streets, and outdoor spaces. This shade helps reduce cooling costs in hot climates.

Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii)

Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii)

The largest growing tree on this list, is a fast-growing red oak species. Plant it now to help reduce up to 90% of the sunlight hitting your walls, windows, and roof during the summer months.

Benefits

  1. Aesthetic Value: Shumard Oak is an attractive tree with distinctive lobed leaves and a tall, stately form. Its presence enhances the visual appeal of landscapes, parks, and natural areas.

  2. Horticultural and Ecological Interest: Shumard Oak is appreciated by horticulturists, naturalists, and ecologists for its role in supporting local ecosystems and biodiversity.

  3. Timber and Woodworking: Shumard Oak wood is valued for its strength, durability, and attractive grain pattern. It has been used historically for timber in construction, furniture-making, and woodworking.

  4. Carbon Sequestration: Like other trees, Shumard Oak contributes to carbon sequestration by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping mitigate climate change.