Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Summertime, and thinkin about shade ...

The nurseries know what they're doing ... go to Home Depot or, as in this case, High Hand Nursery, and they've got those misters fired up! It's undeniable that those misters produce some blessed coolness! According to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, "a typical system uses 2 gallons of water per minute to cool 1,000 square feet of patio area or 720 gallons per 6 hour use, or 21,600 gallons of water each month." Since you only need to use the system when you're actually using the patio, it can be considerably less than that. The best solution for a water-wise landscape, however, is shade trees and shade providing structures! (Or, like High Hand, all three! You won't need the mister as much and it will be good insurance for party days that turned out to be over 100!)

Shade Trees

Cinnamomum camphorum
This camphor tree is in William Land Park. Camphor trees are evergreen, which means they don't drop their leaves in the fall, they drop them all year long! They're reputed to be a bit messy, but I doubt the owners of this tree describe it in that way. As a matter of fact, I know they are in love with their camphor tree, one of many on their street. And it's gorgeous, and it's undeniably, great shade!

Another favorite of mine is the Raywood Ash. It's a lovely, handsome tree that gives dignity to a landscape. This picture doesn't do it justice, but had the benefit of being across the street from me.

I like to get the largest-sized trees possible, although this isn't a universal positive, as some trees do better getting into the ground at a young age. Check out the free trees available through the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Shade Structures

A couple of years ago I was introduced to Living Green Design Solutions and was immediately stunned by their aesthetic, eco-modern products. This last spring I was able to work with them on my garden display for the California Flower and Garden Show. I was inspired to create a Moroccan Garden that featured what I came to call, The Nap House! It had recycled copper Parasoleil panels that created shade overhead and side panels which gave a sense of enclosure. Besides the visual beauty of the panels and their obvious value as shade-providers, they also cast amazing shadows.

Here's another Parasoleil application by Southern California landscaper, Steve Barnes.
Lemon Drop Parasoleil panels

While designing my display garden, I did lots of Google-research for Moroccan garden ideas. Leave it to those who live in hot climates to have clearly learned how to create the sweet life despite the heat...
Moroccan Salon

This picture comes from the U.K.-based international travel site, Scott Dunn.

In addition to permanent overhead shade structures, there are retractable systems, such as this one which allows its Sacramento owner to enjoy sunshine in the winter and shade in the summer.

If you find yourself squinting when you go outside and running for cover when you leave the car, or perhaps, wishing you could skip August, maybe it's time you took a good look at your landscape and consider investing in the quality of your future. By investing in shade trees you'll be doing the sustainable thing ... sustainable for your pocketbook in terms of reduced energy costs, sustainable for your mood (too hot = unhappy) and sustainable for the broader community.  Fall is a great time to make these changes and now is the time to start planning. Call if you need any help!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help!
Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email