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Living Lightly column

Thinking of Shade

By Jenny Indian, Stanley

Despite the fact that you may currently be languishing in winter sun and actively seeking out those sunny spots out of the wind, now is the time to really think about summer shade – the why’s, the where’s and the what species.

Over winter barerooted tree stock is available – it is much cheaper and you are better able to check the root system to ensure you will have a fine tree in years to come.

Also, of course, the trees are dormant, their growth slows to dormancy over the cold months, there is little chance of shock to the plant and so it’s the perfect time to transplant them into your chosen location.

Think about last summer – remember the heat, that scorching sun, where you wanted to sit but couldn’t without frying, where the children play, which windows you looked though into glaring light and just how hot it was out in that sun.

Then think about what you can do to help alleviate that – could you plant a tree to cast shade over these locations? Could you establish a pergola with a vine alongside your house to filter the light coming in? Does the sandpit need a shade tree perhaps with a shade sail for immediate cover until the tree is established?

The species of tree you choose obviously depends on its requirements, what you want it to do and where you intend planting it.

There are many varieties of well behaved, medium sized, deciduous trees available for smaller spaces – many colour well in the autumn, have a fine display of blossom in spring and will provide that all important shade over summer.

Evergreen trees will also obviously give shade over summer but will retain their leaves in winter, so blocking winter light.

It’s also worth noting that evergreen trees do shed their leaves but gradually and constantly, whereas most deciduous trees drop all their leaves at the one time in autumn.

There are some trees which, though considered deciduous, will colour up but then hold their leaves over winter so it’s always best to check this if winter light is important.

It does seem strange to be thinking of shade now but I believe it’s very important for our health – mental and physical – and we don’t take it seriously enough, so it is worth considering and looking at those spaces in your garden which were so very hot last summer.