5 Trees That Provide Shade and Cut Home Energy Bills
Believe it or not, simply planting shade-giving trees around your house could deliver energy savings of as much as 25-30% by the time they’ve grown to full height (provided they’re big enough to shade your home). While you certainly can (and should) find other ways to conserve if you’ve adopted an eco-friendly attitude, there are few options greener than planting trees, which also contribute life-giving oxygen to the environment and pull toxins from the air. Plus, they reduce the urban heat island effect (if you happen to be surrounded by glass and metal structures, as well as concrete and asphalt), they help to prevent soil erosion, and they could attract wildlife to your area, helping to build a diverse and sustainable ecosystem. In short, shade-giving trees are a great way to flex your environmental muscles and save some money on energy bills at the same time. But which trees are best for the job? Here are a few to consider.
- Maple. One of the most popular choices for those looking to plant large trees because of the many growing zones in which they thrive, the lush foliage they produce, and the many colors they can represent, maples are a great option for the homeowner looking for a beautiful shade-giver to plant near a home. Some even produce flowers, which is relatively rare for trees of this size, and they can grow to be anywhere from 30 feet in height to well over 100 feet.
- Oak. Like the maple, the many species of oak tree cover a broad number of growing zones, and thanks to their wide, flat leaves and dense growth, they provide excellent shade. Incredibly, some types of oak are actually evergreen, and these stately trees can grow to be around 100 feet tall in some cases. What is more impressive, however, is that they can spread to be wider than they are tall. For example, the average live oak, at full growth, could reach about 40 feet in height with branches spreading up to about 60 feet in width.
- Mountain ash. Also called rowan, mountain ash is not actually a member of the ash family. But it proliferates in the U.S., making it a popular pick for homeowners seeking a plant that will grow to be 30-60 feet tall. In addition, this family of plants often features colorful berries, giving them an aesthetic appeal that many other large trees lack. Of course, the berries can be quite messy seasonally, so that bears consideration.
- Bamboo. Okay, bamboo is not a tree. But there are so many benefits to growing this hardy plant that you may be willing to overlook the fact that it is technically part of the grass family. For one thing, certain species can grow up to thirty feet tall, and although the foliage in bamboo forests tends to grow up rather than out, a clump of bamboo can still provide plenty of shade for your home. In addition, a single bamboo plant can grow from a shoot to full height in as little as 3-5 years, whereas deciduous trees could take many years (as much as several decades) to grow to full height. As a bonus, bamboo is drought-resistant, meaning it will help you to conserve water as well as energy.
- Evergreens. Although deciduous trees are a more popular choice for shading houses, not to mention improving indoor air quality (and outdoor, for that matter), evergreens come with their benefits, as well. In addition to providing shade, albeit not from sun that is directly overhead, they can also serve as a wind break in winter, helping you to save on both cooling and heating costs. And the fragrant smell of pine, spruce, or other evergreens can certainly add to the overall appeal of your home.