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Phoenix sets ambitious tree planting goal for more shade for residents

Photo city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation department.

The days of triple digit temperatures mean looking for shady spots anywhere you can find them, whether you’re making a phone call or parking your car. The city of Phoenix is looking to give its residents even more shady spots to beat the heat.

The city’s goal is to plant enough trees to shade 25 percent of the city by 2030. Right now, only about 12 percent of the city is shaded. City of Phoenix forestry supervisor Richard Adkins said it’s a challenging goal, but it would be extremely beneficial for those outside during the summer.

“The heat can be stifling at times,” Adkins said. “(If) you get under a nice shade canopy, the temperature goes down 10, 15, 20 degrees in some areas.”

Adkins said the city will plant both native trees, like the desert ironwood and palo verde, and non-native trees, like the Chinese pistache, which is a deciduous tree.

“That’s a very nice tree for this area,” Adkins said. “It gives you nice red, fall color, something a lot of people here don’t see often.”

Adkins hopes the city can be a model for private landowners and businesses, showing them how trees can be planted and cared for in a sustainable way.

“I think a lot of businesses will find, (if) you have trees and vegetation out in the front, you’re going to get an increase in your walk-in business,” Adkins said.

While more water is needed to establish more trees, Adkins believes smart water management can be used in the process. He said after a few years, some trees can live off rainwater, with some supplemental water during the summer months.

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