Planting trees all around your property can keep your home and yard cooler, saving you some green on your power bill while providing you some green in your view!
Simulations run by the U.S. Forest Service have shown that planting just two 25-foot tall trees on the eastern and western sides of a home can reduce the energy load on a home and save you up to 23% on your yearly electricity bill. That’s $57 off of a $250 yearly A/C bill! (just think about what you can do with that extra $57!)
Trees not only save you money, they make your yard a pleasant place to spend time, especially if you live in the city. Temperatures in a city can be up to 5 degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas! The right grouping of trees can create an oasis in the midst of a city landscape.
And if you needed another reason to consider tree planting, let’s talk windbreaks, really important here in the northwest. Creating a windbreak along one or more edges of your property is another way to help reduce your heating and cooling bill. By creating a “microclimate” zone in your yard, temperatures will remain steadier even when an icy wind is whipping in the winter or a hot wind is heating up the summer.
What trees should you plant to keep your yard cool here in the Pacific Northwest?
There are many trees that thrive in the climate of our beloved PNW. We fall under zones 8 and 9 of the USDA’s plant hardiness map. This opens up a wide variety of trees for healthy growth and great shade. Here are some trees that do well in our area:
- The American elder is a fast-growing shrub or small tree. Its mature size is 5’to 12’ feet high and is typically as wide as it is tall. BONUS: It can be pruned into a single trunked, small tree. This variety offers great shade and shelter for wildlife in your yard and will help fill a wide space to keep your yard cooler.
- If you are looking for an attractive, unique tree for your yard, the Black Tupelo tree is a wonderful choice! In the fall, its leaves transform into a kaleidoscope of colors: yellows, orange, bright red, and beautiful purple leaves adorn the tree’s branches!. The fruit it grows attracts birds and other wildlife, and the Black Tupelo’s bark resembles an alligator hide. With a mature height of 30 to 50 feet and a 20 to 30 foot spread, it is a wonderful option for your yard.
- Hickory trees grow to a large size, providing nice shade to help reduce your heating and cooling costs, and the Shellbark Hickory is no exception. With a mature height of 60-80’ and spread of around 40’, your house and yard will remain well-shaded during the warmest days of the year. Ripening in the late summer or early fall, they’re also a great source of harvestable nuts — some of the sweetest and best-tasting nuts found in the hickory family. BONUS: Bees LOVE hickory trees and will help pollinate your tree and the plants in the surrounding area!
- Perhaps one of the most well-known trees of the Pacific Northwest, the Deodar Cedar is a lovely addition to any property. It thrives in our climate, and its graceful, draping branches make for an artistic centerpiece on your property. It can grow up to 70’ high, with a spread of 20-40’. Cedars offer up a nice presence to help keep your property cool.
- Another great tree for creating a windbreak is the Eastern Redcedar. It’s an aromatic tree with a lovely traditional cedar scent evoking a memory of cedar chests and closets. With a medium growth rate, the Eastern Redcedar is not ideal for those needing a quick growing windscreen. It is an evergreen that grows to around 40-50’ high with an 8-20 foot spread. This tree also provides a great nesting and roosting location for several species of birds!
Shade trees and windbreaks can greatly reduce energy costs in your home. Get started now while the weather is nice, and get ready for savings, shade, and some cool bird-watching in the future!