Trees for Comfort and Beauty
Welcome to the drama that is the Florida
summer. The major actors for this part of the year in Florida are:
- Air Conditioner
- Shade Trees
There was a time, not
too many years ago, when to be a resident of Florida in the summer meant sweltering during its many long, hot
months. Unless homes were built with wide eaves and windows placed to allow a
cooling breeze to pass through, being indoors during the summer months could be extremely
uncomfortable at best. So uncomfortable that many Florida residents preferred to
stay outdoors under the shade of trees or a covered patio. At least until the
numerous mosquitoes and thunderstorms chased them back inside.
Now we have what many consider a necessity for
living through the Florida summer -- air conditioning. It is possible to spend the
summer in air conditioned comfort, braving the heat and humidity and mosquitoes only to go
from the house to the car to the store and home again. However, this air conditioned
comfort comes with a high price tag. Just wait until your power bill comes in.
You had better be sitting down when you open that envelope!
Unfortunately it has been all the rage in Florida to
build homes on lots that have been denuded of trees of substantial height and age so that
your home bakes in the Florida sun during the day and your air conditioner must work
double-time to cool it.
Fortunately properly placed shade trees can lessen
the reliance on air conditioning. Properly placed shade trees provide the following
the benefits to the Florida Gardener and home owner:
- Trees can reduce air conditioning costs.
- Trees offer cool oasis in an otherwise hot yard.
- Trees are visually appealing and fulfill the need
to be closer to nature.
How to Properly Place Trees in Your Yard
First, study the summer shade patterns of your yard.
Shade begins the day on the west side of your home in the morning. It moves
to the north during midday then east in the afternoon. Therefore the most important
sites for planting trees in your yard are the southwest and west sides of your home as
that is where the sun is the most intense during the afternoon.
Trees, as we all should know, have a great deal of
effect on the weather. The reason for this is that the leaves of trees absorb very
little heat. They feel cool to the touch, thus a breeze passing through the foliage
of a tree is cooled. Additionally, the importance of shade is supported by the
research done by the University of California which has shown that the temperature of bare
ground ranging from 136º to 152º F dropped an average of 36º in five minutes after the
passage of the "shadow line". In other words, a breeze passing through a
shadow or the leaves of a tree can be cooled substantially.
When selecting trees to plant near your home be sure
to take into consideration:
The potential danger certain trees may pose during
sever storms and hurricanes. Ear leaf acacias, Norfolk pines, Australian pines and
others may potentially drop on your home in strong winds.
Trees with aggressive root systems will seek out
your plumbing, septic tank and pool and uplift sidewalks, streets and walls.
Be sure to know the height and spread at maturity
of any tree you are considering for your yard and plant it accordingly. In other
words, if you know a tree's limbs will have a 25' spread at maturity do not plant it 15'
from your house or if the tree can reach a height of 120', do not plant it under
power lines. This may seem like common sense, but many people plant trees in the
wrong place in their yard and run into big problems years later.
This month do not forget to fertilize. Heavy
rains in July leach nutrients out of Florida's sandy soil. Be sure to regularly feed
your plants, especially heavy feeders such as mangos, palm trees and lychees.
tend to become more of a problem in the yard and garden this month. Try to keep
standing water to a minimum in your yard now as mosquitoes will breed in it. Watch
your lawn for signs of chinch bug damage and apply insecticides as soon as you spot chinch
bugs. Chinch bug control is difficult and often requires the help of a professional
exterminator to properly apply insecticides for effective control.
Vegetables, herbs or annuals to plant this month:
: Boniato, Calabaza, Chayote, Cherry Tomatos, Collards, Cowpeas, Dasheen, Okra,
Peanuts, Roselle, Seminole Pumpkin, New Zealand Spinach, Southern Peas, Squash, Sweet
Cassava, Sweet Potatoes, Yard-long Beans and Yautia.
Basil, Chives, Dill, Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Sage and Thyme.
Begonias, Caladiums, Cat's Whiskers, Celosia, Coleus, Cosmos, Cockscomb, Dianthus,
Gaillardia, Ginger, Impatiens, Lantanas, Marigolds, Melapodium, Moon Vine,
Periwinkles, Porterweed, Portulaca, Purslane, Salvia, Strawflowers, Sunflowers, Torenia
Achimenes, African Iris, Caladiums, Cannas, Crinums, Daylilies, Eucharis Lily,
Gladioli, Gloriosa Lilies, Society Garlic and Zephyranthes (Rain Lilies).
Florida Home Grown;
Florida Gardening Month by Month