Plant now for shade and shelter
Fall’s the perfect time to plant a tree that next summer will begin to provide welcome shade. Trees not only suck carbon dioxide from the air, but they also can reduce your energy bills, particularly in cooling your house.
In fact, a 6- to 8-foot deciduous tree near your home will begin shading windows the first year and the roof in 5 to 10 years. Temperatures under a tree can be as much as 25 degrees cooler than a nearby blacktop. Every home deserves a shade tree!
The U.S. Department of Energy emphasizes that trees will help in maximizing shade in summer, deflecting winter winds, funneling summer breezes and utilizing passive solar energy in the winter when the leaves are off the trees.
Here are tips from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and other sources on landscaping to cool and shelter:
Plant deciduous trees with high crowns, such as oaks and maples and tall shrubs, such as privet hedge, on the east and southwest to block morning or afternoon heat buildup, and plant trees with lower crowns, such as dogwoods and crabapples on the west to block low-angle afternoon rays; plant evergreens if you want continuous shade
Plant trees and shrubs to channel cooling breezes into the house or across a shaded patio; keep lower limbs pruned up to allow breezes to pass underneath shade trees
While young trees are growing, plant quick-growing vines, such as wisteria, to climb on trellises and arbors
If your house lacks a roof overhang on the south, plant deciduous trees and shrubs to shade south walls in summer; however for year-round energy efficiency, leave the south side of the house unshaded, since in winter, trees without leaves can still block as much as 60 percent of the sun
Plant trees that will become large at least 20 feet from a house and smaller trees or those with columnar shapes 15 feet or closer, according to the University of Missouri Extension
Reduce the “heat island” effect around your home with pervious paving, light-colored paving materials, shade, less pavement, organic mulches (instead of rock or gravel) and water-efficient turf grass; an unshaded concrete driveway can be as much as 35 degrees warmer than surrounding lawn
Shade your air conditioner or exterior heat pump: efficiency will improve by as much as 10 percent; plant no closer than 3 feet, so there’s plenty of air flow to the unit
To block hot summer winds, plant a windbreak on the windward side of your house, usually southwest or west; to block winter winds, plant a windbreak on the north or northwest
Of course, when planting, choose sites away from power lines both overhead and underground. Contact your electric cooperative for specific planting guidance.