The Benefits of Shade Trees – Nature’s Sunscreen

The Benefits of Shade Trees – Nature’s Sunscreen

The unofficial start to summer is here! Bring on those sunny days – filled with picnics, hikes, cookouts and all those outdoor adventures we look forward to all year.

Though, we wouldn’t enjoy those moments nearly as much without our trees! 

Shade trees instantly cool us down on those hot, humid summer days. They even cool our homes! When planted on the west side of your house, trees can reduce your air conditioning use by 30 percent.

Did you know, in addition to keeping us cool, trees also protect us from UV rays?

Yes! Sitting under a shade tree provides the equivalent of SPF 10 sunblock – according to the University of Purdue.

We like to think of trees as Nature’s Sunscreen! Learn how to make the most of tree’s shady benefits below.

How Trees Protect Our Skin

 Now more than ever before, we need to do everything we can to protect our skin.

The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. To reduce this statistic, our best bet is to be proactive.

In addition to wearing sunscreen each day, it’s best to stay in the shade when we’re outside.

Tree shade reduces UV-B exposure by about 50 percent. That’s a statistic we like!

Here are a few tips to maximize the benefit of tree shade:

  • Sit under trees with dense foliage for best protection from the sun. The less sunlight peeking through the leaves, the better!
  • Choose a tree near other trees or buildings to further block the sun.
  • Trees provide the most coverage from UV rays during the middle of the day.
  • Any tree coverage is better than none at all!

Grow More Shade – Plant Shade Trees to Shield Your Skin from the Sun

Looking to gain more shade in your yard?

Plant a shade tree! The best times to plant new trees are in spring and fall. To set yourself up for success, plant the right tree in the right place.

See some of our favorite shade trees that grow well in most areas of the country below. Trees that lose their leaves annually, called deciduous trees, provide thicker coverage from the sun.

Use this as a starting point before talking with your arborist about specifics for your yard and area.

Best Types of Shade Trees

Find out what gardening zone you are in by using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map here. Plants in your zone are most likely to thrive in the climate and weather of your area.

  • Paper birch (zones 2-7)
  • Norway Spruce (zones 2-7)
  • Eastern white pine (zones 3-8)
  • Red oak (zones 3-8)
  • Sugar maple (zones 3-8)
  • Blackhaw viburnum (zones 3-9)
  • Red maple (zones 3-9)
  • Weeping willow (zones 3-9)
  • White oak (zones 3-9)
  • Tulip trees (zones 4-9)
  • London plane (zones 5-9)
  • Crepe myrtle (zones 7-9)
  • Live oak (zones 7-10)

Protect Trees to Maximize Their Benefits to Your Skin

Once you’ve got a shade tree in your yard, ensure it keeps growing strong and tall. That way, you can lounge under its leafy canopy for summers to come.

Here are a few, simple ways to improve your tree’s long-term health – in addition to annual checkups from the tree doctor.

Just a little TLC each season makes all the difference!

  • Inspect to Protect. Examine trees and shrubs from the bottom up. Check for dead or dying branches, soft or decaying wood, small holes in the trunk or shallow pits in the bark. 

  • Provide the Essentials. Food and water! Deeply water trees during dry spells and droughts. Also, the trees in our yard often grow in soil that lacks nutrients. Fertilizer helps replace those missing nutrients. See if your tree needs to be fertilized here.

  • Look Up Often. Many tree pests and diseases can be effectively treated when spotted early. So, admire your tree often. If you see anything on their leaves or bark that looks odd, take action. Get an expert opinion quickly.

If you love lounging in trees’ shade during those hot, sunny days, take Davey’s Nature’s Sunscreen Pledge!

  • The Tree Doctor July 5, 2016 >Hi there, Joy! Thanks for reaching out to Davey for help about the shoots near your flowering plants. After hearing the information you shared, our scientists at the Davey Institute believe your pear tree is probably suffering from rootstock. You can try to apply an over-the-counter product, such as "Sucker Stopper," to see if that solves the problem. If you'd like more info, contact with your local arborist at 408.755.9824 or http://www.davey.com/local-offices/south-bay-tree-service/#main-form. Hope this helps, Joy!
  • Joy Olson June 26, 2016 >We have a spring flowering pear tree in the center of our small front yard lawn. It has sprouted shoots all over the grass. Is there any solution other than removing the tree? We have a border around the lawn that contains mostly flowering plants. What can we do?
  • The Tree Doctor June 8, 2016 >Hi Mary. Thanks for reaching out to Davey for help preserving your oak tree. There can be no promises with this, especially without in-person inspection. However, you can try putting tree paper around the exposed bark through September to minimize scalding from the sun. Be sure to remove this in fall! For more details about the exposed bark and overall health of your oak tree, connect with a local arborist. Wishing you and your oak tree all the best, Mary.
  • mary sincleair June 8, 2016 >I have a oak tree that developed a crack in two parts of it. I had a bolt put in the top part. The bottom branch split and we had to cut it off. there is a lot of exposed bark. Maybe 4 foot down the side of the tree. I want to know what you put on the bark to preserve the tree..
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