Trees are a critical component of the home landscape, providing not only beauty as focal points in a well-designed yard but also serving practical purposes by providing shade, acting as a windbreak, or even producing delicious fruit. Which landscape trees are best for your Tucson yard?
Before You Choose Trees
Before you select the trees you want to add to your yard, it is essential to carefully assess what your landscape can offer trees to ensure they will thrive. Assess the soil quality – a soil test is helpful, and you’ll want to note areas of possible flooding or drainage relative to any slopes in your yard. Check the space available to accommodate a tree’s mature size and note areas of full sun or partial shade.
You will also want to be sure you understand your tree choices. Some trees lose their leaves more readily or may have fruit or seed pods that could be messy near a patio or pool. Note the bloom season for flowering trees, especially if you want to enjoy the flowers while you are at home. Finally, consider the benefits of native trees, which can help nurture local wildlife. Non-native trees can still be beautiful if carefully chosen and properly cared for, and any healthy, attractive trees will help enhance your landscape.
Top 10 Trees for Tucson Landscapes
You will not find maple, dogwood or white pine trees growing in Tucson, as our Sonoran Desert climate (9a/9b hardiness zone) is unsuitable for those familiar varieties. Yet there are many gorgeous trees that will thrive in a desert landscape, such as these top options.
- Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina) – A favorite native, this tree can reach up to 50′ tall and features a wide canopy for ideal shade over a large space without needing multiple trees in the same area. Seed pods can be messy, however this is a great habitat tree and will attract a variety of pollinators, songbirds and other wildlife.
- Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) – The smooth, gray bark and small pink, white, or purple flowers make this an attractive tree as well as a favorite for pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies. This tree is a low-pollen producer, making it a great choice if allergies are a concern.
- Cascalote (Caesalpinia cacalaco) – This tree is perfect for smaller landscapes or patios, as it only get’s 12′-15′ tall and wide . They are evergreen and produce yellow flowers in the winter, which attracts a multitude of pollinators when not many plants are blooming.
- Palo Blanco – A showstopper with its delicate, paper-ish peeling bark and thin, weeping branches, this tree can be beautiful either as a centerpiece for a small space or with several trees planted together as a grove or border in a larger area.
- Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) – The dense foliage of this lovely tree makes it an outstanding option to provide shade for a house, patio, or pool. The green foliage is lush during the spring and summer and turns brilliant gold for a spectacular autumn show. We carry two grafted varieties, Fan-Tex and Bonita, that are all male and will not produce any messy seed pods.
- Canyon Hackberry – A very resilient native tree in even the poorest soil, canyon hackberry can grow from 20-50′ high and wide. The relatively dense foliage and broad canopy can be excellent for providing shade, depending on how the tree is placed.
- Red Push Pistache (Pistacia x ‘Red Push’) – This is the perfect shade tree for those that crave the red and orange foliage of autumn. A low maintenance tree that can tolerate extreme cold and drought. It grows from 30′ to 40′ tall and wide to provide dense shade with a dark green, dome shaped canopy before it’s dramatic fall display of color.
- Afghan Pine (Pinus elderica) – Most of the pine trees you will see around Tucson these days are Afghan pines. They reach a height of 30′ to 50′ and is very adapted to extreme heat, cold and drought in addition to a wide range of soil conditions. They make a great screen or wind break. You can purchase them in winter and use them as living Christmas trees before planting too.
- Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) – Many tropical palms struggle with our environment in the Sonoran Desert but the Mediterranean Fan Palm is very hardy and low maintenance. They slowly grow to a mature size of 10′ to 12′ tall and wide and can be single or multi trunk. They are a perfect fit for most homeowners because their smaller size doesn’t dwarf the rest of the landscape.
- Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) – These medium sized evergreen trees typically reach 25′ – 30′ tall and wide making them excellent shade trees with their dense foliage and broad canopy. They do produce acorns in the fall which are enjoyed by a variety of wildlife.
No matter which tree you are interested in, consult with our knowledgeable staff about the best trees that will thrive in your landscape, and you won’t be disappointed with the value they will add to your yard.