When you're designing your own landscaping in the Las Vegas area, the harsh heat and other challenging conditions of the surrounding Mojave Desert make it impossible to use the maples and willows commonly recommended as residential shade trees.
However, that doesn't mean you must live without shade just because you've got drought or high wind conditions. It's just a matter of choosing the right trees that already thrive in these conditions. Try these five shade trees all adapted to the Las Vegas area, most of which are either drought resistant or fast growing as well.
While the Brachychiton populneus—more commonly known as the bottle tree—may be native to Australia rather than Nevada, it's still a good choice for growing near the home to provide shade all summer long. It reaches a moderate size and grows fairly quickly. It is not the most drought tolerant tree as a sapling, but it only requires the occasional deep watering during the first few years.
Even in the summer, you'll only need to water it every few months so it grows a deep root to anchor it rather than a set of shallow roots that allow it to tip over in a storm. It can handle extreme heat and requires little pruning or other maintenance once mature.
There are multiple acacia trees that grow well in this area with little care, but the sweet acacia or Acacia smallii is one of the best for providing shade around the home. It has an open growth pattern and 30-foot height that makes it great for flanking an entrance or surrounding a patio. You'll enjoy dappled light and beautiful puffball flowers that dry well without creating much litter on your walkways or porch.
However, make sure they're kept far enough back from paths to prevent the small thorns from brushing against you and your guests. Once the trees reach their mature height, the branch tips are high enough to stay out of your way. This evergreen tree also attracts nesting birds.
Get the look of a succulent green deciduous tree in an evergreen that grows very rapidly with the Sissoo, also known as the Dalbergia sissoo. Unlike many desert evergreens, this tree features the pointy leaf shape and bright green color of an aspen.
It also forms a round and dense canopy, perfect for creating cooling shade when you line them up around your home. They have a low water requirement, so watering restrictions won't cause your shade tree plans to go awry only a few years after planting.
Chilean Mesquite, or Prosopis chilensis, is not the only mesquite you can use for home shade, and it's not completely evergreen either. Yet it offers a thornless set of branches that grow strong connections so you're not spending your weekends cleaning up branches and leaves after each wind storm.
The flowers and seedpods still make some litter, so it's a tree best used in planted beds and xeriscape areas where organic matter serves as mulch rather than something you need to remove. The drought resistance and fast growth make it great for homes where you want shade within years, not decades.
The tipu, or Tipuana tipu, hails from South America and offers the Las Vegas homeowner a beautiful combination of shading foliage and attractive gold flowers. The branches twist and turn and curve upward, creating a convenient space under the branches for resting in the shade. This makes it ideal for planting around patios and pathways, along with the lack of fruit or thorns. There's little need to prune this tree to develop this kind of growth either.
Need to remove some of your existing trees to make space for these better choices? Noble Tree Service can handle everything from removing your current trees to caring for the new saplings until they are well-established.