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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - August 12, 2014

From: Bullhead City, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Trees
Title: Shade Trees for Bullhead City, AZ
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We have a patio with 2 old (unused) fire pit cut-outs; about 4 ft wide each. The cut out is not lined with concrete or brick: just rimmed with the concrete on all sides. The center of the cut-outs is natural sand, I would LOVE to plant shade trees in these two squares and will make sure that the drainage is adequate. What do you recommend that is the most dense, yet no larger than about 15 ft high. We really need a relief from this bare concrete and the reflected heat/sun on the patio.

ANSWER:

  I’ll give you some recommendations, that’s easy and direct, but it sounds like a pretty hard situation to keep a tree [even an AZ adapted tree] alive in a cutout in a concrete patio.  Be ready to give the tree lots of support!

  The Wildflower Center keeps lists of recommended species for all the States and many of the contained ecoregions.  This link is to the Recommended Species for Arizona.  When I searched this list for trees, 12-36 feet high, then considered the resulting 14 trees, these seemed the best choices:

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)

Acer glabrum (Rocky mountain maple)

Quercus gambelii (Gambel oak)   

[Feel free to consider the whole list yourself, or to do modified searches as you see appropriate]

  Another resource I often check is the other questions & answers on Mr Smarty Plants.  There isn't much on shade trees in Arizona, but I did find these two discussions that are pretty close to you and your question:   

Tree to plant by pool replacing mulberry in Las Vegas

Fast growing shade tree for Phoenix, Arizona

 

From the Image Gallery


Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Gambel oak
Quercus gambelii

California redbud
Cercis orbiculata

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

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