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How much shade do I really need?


Permalink 01:05:41 pm, by eleanor Email , 1185 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Announcements, my life, information, Gardening

How much shade do I really need?

This is a question that I am I asking myself lately . We live on a tree lined street in Saratoga Springs . Most of the homes were built in the late eighteen hundreds to early nineteen hundreds. All of these homes have front porches .These big beautiful trees look great when you drive or bike down the street or walk down the sidewalks .They also provide cooling shade not only for us for porch sitters but for those bikers in the streets and walkers on the sidewalks. Having MS I need shade but I also need interaction with people . This is why maintaining shade on my front porch, the street and sidewalk is so  critical not just for the shade but also the interaction with the people going back and forth past my home.

When we moved here 30 plus years ago the trees were mostly older . Except the trees in front of our house.  We built full span window boxes on the railings of our wraparound porch. In them we were able to grow geraniums, petunias and Swedish ivy. And we also had sun loving plants in pots on the front and side porch steps .

Over the years the trees in front of our houses have grown up spreading their branches ving us more and more shade.This was fortunate for me having MS.  Unfortunately the older trees across the street were dying . Sadly one by one these big beautiful trees had to be cut down. It changed our view dramatically looking across the street while sitting on our front porch. But we were fortunate in that the house's across the street had big beautiful trees and shrubbery around them .   

I expected that when we lost those big beautiful maple trees we would also have lost shade on our front porch . But in fact the shade increased. We gradually had to replace our sun loving plants with shade plants.  And even though we have German Ivy and hanging begonias flourishing the plants in our window boxes were not. But my biggest concern in the front was a branch from one of the tree's that was hanging so low you almost had to duck to go by it.tree on the out

So last week when I was awoken by the sound of trucks and chainsaws in front of the house I pulled myself up out of bed and threw on some clothes. I grabbed a container of coffee put it in my cup holder on my electric wheelchair and sped out to my front porch to check it out .The City was taking down a very big beautiful sugar maple tree two houses up. They had removed several dead branches but sadly the tree was past saving.  Before they left I asked one of the city workers if they could trim the branch that was so low at the side of our house.  As the big truck that had the equipment with the bucket to trim the tree had already left he said he'd try to get them to come back another day .

The next day I was out back on our deck when I heard a commotion of trucks out front . Looking around the side of the house I realized it was the city's trucks.  They had come back!   In my Electric wheelchair I sped down my back ramp and around the block to the front of my house. There was the city worker that I had spoken to. He said "I said I'd be back and here we are ". I was asked if I was sure I wanted the branch off as I would lose some shade. Knowing that I had a lot of shade at the other end where I sat and on the side  I had no hesitation and said yes!  But I watched them apprehensively cut higher then I thought they would and the branch come down! They then asked me if I would like them to continue trimming the tree and the other two trees in front of our houses as the branches were pressing on our porch roofs.  I said yes please and so he continued and then dropped two dead branches from the tree.  That really upset me and  I told them" I do not want to lose my trees." They reassured me that the trees were healthy!!

When they finished I thanked them and was very please with how they had done it .  That afternoon I went back back out to the porch .  And the area where they had trimmed the branch looked so barren.... I thought ,"oh what have I done ?"  The big tree they were taking down was already opening up the space at the side of our front porch door. My family and my next door neighbor reassured me that I did the right thing.  But it did remind me how much shady trees provide cooling.  And having MS heat is my enemy .  As everyone with MS knows.

There are all kinds of cooling devices like vests, hats, scarves,bracelets etc. Some are fancier but others are simple like gel crystals In the band of hats . I've used them and they work but they don't continue cooling for long.

That started me thinking about some of my old patients who had no trees around their house's. They hardly ever went outside in the summer. I talked to them about cooling devices and going out early in the day which I do but I never told them to plant a tree or a bush or vines. Of course some of my patients did not live in their own home but even so.

  I've always lived with shade tree's and bush's giving me shady areas. In fact right now out back things are really over grown. And I've started thinking about making changes. The biggest change  will be in the fall when we will have our large old butternut tree taken down .The tree is dying and has quite a few dead limbs on it. And there's a tree that we had cut down years ago that grew back in our neighbor's yard with large branches leaning on the fence shading our backyard.

To prepare for planning all this in the backyard  and where the shade will be I've been checking the internet. I found an interesting site.        http://www.epa.gov/hiri/strategies/vegetation.html     If you're planning ahead for shade down the road or need to reassess your outdoor activities and shade it's worth looking at  even though It's focus is on the environment and saving heating and cooling costs . Of course that's a good thing too!    

hanging big petunia Meanwhile back to my front porch... my window boxes are doing better . And I put up a large sun loving petunia hanging basket on that barren side of the porch where the branch was cut off ...  It looks great!  Even though I have to water it and dead head it daily. That's my arm exercises of the day .  (Actually my family helps too) 

Any suggestions or experiences of your own to share please do !        


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