5. Trees: the ultimate plants for shade
Of course, when it comes to plants for shade, nothing beats a full-sized tree. When deciding whether to plant a tree, find out its maximum height and root span and think about whether it could damage any nearby structures or overhead wires. A tree is a long-term commitment so it’s worth thinking carefully about which variety you want and whether it will suit your garden.
Apple trees are popular for gardens, as they tend not to grow too tall (usually a maximum of 15 feet) and offer delicious fruit. Because they are deciduous, they will only create shade in summer and won’t block light in winter. Apple trees can’t usually pollinate themselves or other trees of the same variety, so consider planting two trees (different but compatible varieties, which blossom at the same time) to get fruit. Cross-pollination is a complicated business, so consult your local garden centre about which trees are compatible with each other and tricks to use if you only have space for one tree.