Recommend a Good Shade Tree: clay soil and full sun

Asked August 11, 2014, 1:48 AM EDT

My new patio faces a northwesterly direction and I get full hot sun in the late afternoon/early evening. Please recommend a disease resistant shade tree that will grow relatively fast, tolerates wind (I have an open field behind me) and that deer don't really like (unless starving). How far away from my patio do I need to plant it?

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response

We frequently receive questions about what plant should I use, what tree should I plant? The answer is always subjective. What type of trees do you like? What type of soil do you have? How much sun is there? Is there shade part of the day? How much space do you have? The qualifications that you list do not all exist in a single tree. If the winter is bad enough or the deer hungry enough, they will eat your tree. There isn't any disease free tree. You may find something that is disease resistant but not disease free. You will need to do some research to determine what meets your preferences and site situation. You will also need to monitor the path of the sun and see how it hits your patio and then determine where to site the tree. Remember that it will take several years for a tree to establish and demonstrate enough growth to give the shade that you are looking for.

Soil is number one in determining what to plant. If you have alkaline soil, a tree that prefers acid soil will not perform well and may eventually fail. If you don't know what soil type you have or the pH we always suggest obtaining a soil test. You can obtain a kit through the MSU book store. The results will be e-mailed to you. After you receive this information you can continue your quest. Here is the site to purchase the test kit.

Here is the soil lab web site for more information on the soil test.

I am going to include links to some tree selections. You should also visit the reputable nurseries in your area to see what they carry. They should also be able to help you if you go in with information from your research.

Tree selections; note that we just experienced a Zone 5a (-20 degrees) winter. This has suggestions for replacing ash trees, however it can be used for possible choices.

The above links should get you started.

After planting the tree remember that you will need to care for it by watering, especially in the first year and several years after. As a result of the drought of 2012 and an extremely dry period in 2013 many established trees were lost due to lack of water. You will need to monitor and water even after the tree has established. Here is a link to more information on planting and maintaining your tree. Be sure to review the watering and mulching sections.

Good luck on your quest.