The simple pleasures in life often become our favorite memories later in life. Playing board games with the family, everyone gathered around a table that may no longer be fresh and pristine, but the scars, chips, and occasional Sharpie marker “graffiti” gives the table a sense of family. Floating on a raft in the pool, cool beverage in the cup holder, and reading the latest best seller on a quiet weekend afternoon. And sitting under a tree, its canopy shading the yard and house, with all the neighbors, watching your children riding bikes in the cul de sac, playing with the same neighbor kids they have grown up with their entire life. These moments will not last forever and you want to cherish every second, but what if you do not have a shade tree in your Arizona yard? You could sit inside your air-conditioned house, staring out at the tableau of happy times feeling left out and alone, or you could take advantage of SRP’s free tree program and get out there and join in the action! This guide to some of our favorite shade trees will help you narrow down your choices, and the SRP program will help you save a little more money while you do!
But First, a Little More About SRP’s Free Tree Program
It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not! SRP will give you up to two desert-adapted trees at no cost; all you have to do is register for the workshop online. The workshops are only held at certain times of the year, so you will need to check back occasionally to see when they are holding class again, but seriously, this is worth the time. The classes teach you how to plant, care for, and keep the trees alive (not all of us are born with green thumbs), and the trees, once planted, will help you enjoy family moments such as the ones we listed above and save money. Having a shade tree planted near the house can noticeably reduce utility costs, a benefit we all need during the costly days of summer and they also help the environment, reducing carbon dioxide and adding over 200 pounds of oxygen to the air every year! Now, let’s move on to the tree suggestions!
The native mesquite is about as hardy as they come. Growing up to 30 feet and offering a canopy that spreads far over house and yard, this drought tolerant tree stays green all year and is really easy to take care of. The thorns on its branches, however, can be painful, and maybe not something you want if you have small children. This tree is included in SRP’s free tree program.
The Thornless Mesquite
See? We have all the solutions! This less pain inducing version of the native mesquite offers all the same benefits, including a root system that stands up to strong desert winds, and as the name suggests, lacks the thorns that can bite the hand that prunes them. The thornless mesquite is also included in the free tree program and adds a beautiful element to your desert landscaped yard.
This tree is not included in the free tree program, but its beauty, strength, and wide-spreading canopy makes it a favorite of ours! Offering dark green leaves and a strong root system, the shade this tree provides is cooling and refreshing. This tree is deciduous, losing its leaves in the late fall and turning a gorgeous shade of gold before it does, making Midwesterners who are feeling homesick for the fall colors of their homes state feel as if they are once more back where they were born!
Another tree not on the free tree program list, but one that does amazingly well in the Arizona desert, is the Arizona ash. Like the evergreen elm, this tree offers a deep green canopy in the summer and also turns a bright gold in the late fall before losing its leaves. Requiring little water to keep it alive, the only downside to this majestic tree is its short life span. With great care and attention, it can survive for 50 years though, and it will be a stunning addition to your landscaping!
The last tree on our list, the willow acacia, is included in the free tree program, and although it may remind you of the weeping willows of your Midwestern home town, its drought resistant hardiness makes it perfect for desert living! Water is our most precious resource and being able to save while still adding beauty to your landscape is a bonus you will definitely appreciate.
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