Looking to Save Energy? Plant the Right Trees

trees and birdsLandscaping can certainly make your yard beautiful, but it can also provide shade, save energy and reduce utility bills.AdobeStock_67542068

We know how landscaping can transform non-descript lawns into tranquil outdoor living spaces – after all, that’s what we do. But we also know that by planting the right trees in strategic areas around your home or business, you can save energy and reduce your utility bills all year around.

Specifically, as described by Purdue Extension urban forestry specialists, trees create a cooling effect during the hot summer months and allow for passive solar gain – heat directly from the sun after leaves have fallen – during winter months. But this will only happen if you plant the right trees and place them in the right place. In fact, improperly planted trees can actually cause damage to your infrastructure or fail to provide any sort of shade at all.

Here are our top tips when choosing and planting trees for optimum energy-efficiency.

Choose high-quality trees. This means they are suitable for your location, region and climate. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting money, time and energy on trees that are doomed to thrive in the first place. We can help ensure you select the best ones for your needs.

 Go big for shade. If you’re looking for shade and solar gain, choose larger, deciduous-canopy trees primarily for the south-facing side of the house, followed by the west and east. When the sun is high during the summer months, the leaves will provide shade and help cool the house. In the winter, the bare limbs will allow sun to provide direct heating.

 Include evergreens. In order to minimize wind exposure during the winter, plant evergreen trees on the north side of the house. But avoid positioning them too close to the house, especially on the southern side, because during winter months they can block out the sun.

 Do your research. Make sure you are well-educated about the types of trees you choose to plant, as their height and spread as they mature should fit the location and positioning from the beginning. The more naturally the tree fits your design space, the less pruning and maintaining you’ll have to do later on as it grows.

 Ask for help. We are often called in to correct homeowners’ well-intentioned DIY landscaping projects, simply because they weren’t familiar enough with how certain trees form and grow. Trees intended for energy-efficiency must be close enough to the house for the canopy to provide shade, but far enough away from the house to fit the design space and maturing process.

Add hardscapes. While trees are wonderful additions to any energy-efficient landscape, there are plenty of other options that can provide shade and wind protection while also enhancing your outdoor environment. Pergolas, for example, can be positioned in ways to provide wind breaks and shade, while also serving as the perfect backdrop for other foliage that can help cool the area surrounding the home.

If you are looking for ways to not only improve your outdoor living space, but also save energy and reduce your utility bills for years to come, give us a call. We will be happy to assess your needs and give you the landscape of your dreams.