Adding Trees Without Creating Too Much Shade

I have spoken before about how great a decision it can be to plant trees on your property. But some people, understandably, enjoy the sunshine. They worry that adding trees will exclude too much light and make a garden too shaded. Though sensible design, however, trees can become part of almost any garden.

Here are some tips to add trees without making your garden too dark, and making sure that you still get plenty of sunshine:

  • Don’t be tempted to add tall and thin coniferous trees because they take up less of a footprint. Sometimes, the greater area of shade cast by a more open canopied deciduous tree will be less oppressive, and still let in plenty of sunshine when used in the right place and in the right way.
  • Place larger trees to the north side of the site (in the northern hemisphere). This will mean that they will not excessively shade the area to the south of them.
  • Think about adding trees on dwarfing, or even extreme dwarfing rootstock, which will not excessively shade the space. Or choose small specimen trees – like Acers for example.
  • Remember, trees can be pruned creatively to let dappled light through, and make sunny glades for seating areas.
  • Trees can also be trained, to grow against a wall or fence. Fruit trees can often be pleached, or trained into fans, columns, or other forms. Some (such as apples) can even be trained into step-over forms.

Sunshine can be wonderful in a garden – especially in climates where it can sometimes feel like it is in short supply. But remember that sunlight filtered through the leaves of trees can alter the light and make it even more beautiful. And sunny glades are all the brighter for the gentle shade that surrounds them.

Even if you are reluctant to add trees, there may be a way to include a forest garden, a fruit tree guild, or even just a single fruit tree in a container on your property. If you need some help to determine where to place them, please do get in touch.

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