Plant Trees the Right Way for Maximum Savings

April 30, 2014

It’s planting season, which means it’s getting warmer, the days are longer and shade is going to be at a premium.

If you’re planting trees this spring, then, you have a lot to think about. Planting shade trees in strategic locations can cool your house, save money on your cooling bills and extend the life of things you buy and maintain.

For instance, the Arbor Day Foundation says that large, deciduous trees planted on the east, west and northwest sides of a home can create protective shade from the summer sun and cut summer air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent. If the view is a consideration, prune the lowest branches. It also helps to plant trees to shade an outside air conditioning unit or a driveway where you park your car.

Colorado State University says the recommended way to provide shade around a home is to plant deciduous trees in an arc encompassing the home on the east, southeast, south, southwest and west sides. Walls that face east or west can be shrouded with vegetation like deciduous or evergreen shrubs or small trees that grow high enough to shade the wall.

Utah State University says trees with mature heights of at least 25 feet should be planted 10 to 20 feet east and west of the house.

However, ensuring that sunlight can reach the home in winter is a consideration. So, to avoid such winter shading, Utah State says to plant trees no closer than 2 1/2 times their mature height to the south of a building. That means a tree that is 20 feet tall should be no closer than 50 feet from the home. Trees planted to the southeast or southwest should be about four times their mature height from the building, or 80 feet away for a 20-foot tree. Late afternoon and early morning shade can be achieved by planting smaller deciduous or evergreen trees with lower limbs to the buildings northwest and northeast.

Planting trees the right way requires some study. To plan for the appropriate shade, watch to see how the sun strikes the house during the summer.

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