Why deciduous trees became unpopular in Phoenix, Arizona
Deciduous trees are the opposite of evergreen trees. Evergreen trees keep their leaves all year, whereas deciduous trees drop their leaves in fall, are bare all winter, and then grow their leaves back in the spring. Being deciduous is a response to cold, so unless you're a pine tree, and you want to grow in, say, Minneapolis, you need to drop your leaves for the winter. In warm climates, many more types of trees than pine trees can be evergreen.
Since it never snows in Phoenix, I've always preferred to see leaves on trees in the winter. There are many evergreen trees to choose from, such as mesquite. My logic has been that winter is the best time to be outside, and I really never wanted to look at bare branches during that beautiful weather. It's just a matter of aesthetics. The reality is that it would be better to have a deciduous tree in Phoenix, as it would provide the best shade in summer, and in the cool months allow sunlight to warm you, and your house. Yes, it gets cool (although never cold) in Phoenix in the winter, and sunshine feels good in December and January!
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But aside from the rather unsightly look of a deciduous tree in the winter, being all bare branches, there's the enormous amount of leaves that come dumping down every fall. I had a neighbor who had a beautiful, huge Cottonwood, which would drop its leaves every year and make a big job for this neighbor. And there were a LOT of leaves! On the other hand, evergreen trees drop their leaves continuously, all year. Ask anyone who has a mesquite tree, they'll tell you that there's a continuous drop of litter all of the time. So you really can't get a tree that won't drop it's leaves, even pine trees do it. All trees drop their leaves, it's just that evergreen trees grow them right back, and stay in leaf all winter.
If you drive along Central Avenue, near Orangewood, which is where the 1915 photo at the top of this post was taken, you'll see a lot of deciduous trees. They provide wonderful shade in the summer, and their branches are bare all winter. That's just the kind of trees they are, their leaves will fall in the fall even if it doesn't feel cool at all. Seeing leaves dropping on trees when it's in the 90s in Phoenix is interesting to see. Of course the city has to clean up all of the leaves every fall, which takes money and effort.
If you're reading this in the winter, you can go around Phoenix and see the deciduous trees. There's aren't many, so I recommend driving Central between Glendale Avenue and Northern - you'll see them there, and their branches will be bare of leaves.
Posted by Brad Hall