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Where Is the Best Place to Plant Shade Trees in a Yard?

The sun is shining strong and bright, and the heat is making its way into your home. You have an air conditioner, but you used it all day yesterday and the day before that too. The weather report says the UV index is going to be stronger today and the temperature even higher. Whether you want to admit it or not, you’ve grown accustomed to turning on the air to keep you and your loved ones cool in the long, hot summer months. While AC is convenient, the steep increase in your energy bills has probably left you wondering if there’s another option. There is: you can plant shade trees where they will protect your home from the sun’s rays.

Imagine in the heat of the summer that you don’t have to run your air conditioner all day, every day—and that a good portion of your energy bills are cut due to the shade provided by the trees you have around your home. Doesn’t that sound like an ideal landscape design? You can have more shade in the yard for your outdoor summer fun and more interior cooling provided by those same trees. The fact is, there is a way to make this happen. So, where is the best place to plant shade trees in your yard?

Residential home with a red door and grey siding

Did You Know?

With the right placement of trees around your home and driveway, you can reduce your need for air conditioning by about half, as the cooling provided by a fully shaded house means a sharp drop in energy costs. Studies show that an average US household can cut their energy costs by anywhere between 15  and 35 percent annually. How can trees shade your home so much so that your energy bills are slashed significantly?

How Trees Shade Your Home

Trees go through a process called evapotranspiration and this can decrease the temperature around them by two to nine degrees Fahrenheit. Trees soak up water through their roots and “breathe” out, or evaporate, the moisture through small pores in their leaves. Trees can also provide a blockage from the sun for your rooftop, windows, and exterior walls, which decreases the exposure to sunlight that causes solar radiation on unshaded surfaces.

When a tree’s shadow provides shade and blocks out the sun, a shaded wall absorbs less heat into the home or building. When the heat is kept out of the building, there is less need to run the air conditioner. The numbers are drastic. A shaded wall can be anywhere between 9 and 36 degrees cooler, depending on the location of the wall and the normal summer temperature of the geographic region.

Buildings and homes in cities and other urban areas are subject to the urban heat island effect. If you’ve never heard of this effect before, it’s important to understand, as more and more people move into cities each year, and there isn’t always a guarantee of having foliage and other trees or plants around the home. It’s the difference in temperature based on having fewer green spaces to absorb the excess heat, and instead, buildings and homes are significantly warmer than neighboring rural areas.

If you’re comparing the effectiveness of a shade tree versus a curtain or blind, you’ll see that the tree is much, much better at providing shade, as it often not only covers walls but rooftops as well. So the energy-efficient landscape design enables lower monthly energy costs, even in the warmest months.

Where to Plant Shade Trees

In deciding where to plant shade trees, there are a handful of factors to take into consideration. First, you need to decide on the shape and size of the tree you’d like to plant and plan the location contingent on other factors (such as how close your home is to a shared wall). Proper placement will allow you to grow the tree over time so that it provides proper shading without the risk of roots moving under walls or into neighbors’ yards.

It’s important to observe your yard and see how the sun moves in the summer to see where the sunshine makes its way into the home. You can also get a good sense of the best placement by seeing which rooms are the warmest in the heat of the day when the sun is at its highest.

The placement for the tree will also need to include forethought into which side of your house to plant the trees on. Considering the path of the sun, you’ll need to be sure to plant them so that they come between the sun and your home.

As the sun rises in the east, you really won’t need any sort of heat protection just yet, but as the sun climbs higher, you’ll feel the shift in temperature, both inside and outside. The south and west sides of the home are going to be the sides that will need the most proactive protection.

Which Trees to Plant

The best shade trees to plant on the south and west sides of your home are deciduous, as they will lose their leaves in the fall time and allow what sunshine there is to effectively do the opposite and provide more warmth to the home. Be sure to plant trees that are tall enough to provide shade to the roof, windows, and walls for the summer months of June, July, and August.

Keep in mind that the type of deciduous you plant will factor into the actual shade height and that the size of your yard might impact the size of the trees you can plant. Some trees have higher crowns, so sunlight will still be able to pass by at a lower angle. Choose some tall crown trees for the roof covering, such as oaks and ash, as well as walnut and cypress. Also, add shorted crowned trees to limit the sun exposure from lower angles and to protect walls and windows from direct summer heat.

If you have any questions about where to plant shade trees for your home or would like advice on which trees to plant, contact your local tree experts at Mr. Tree Services.