Sitting under a shade tree on a hot day makes you cooler, and standing by a wall on a cold, windy day makes you feel warmer. It seems pretty obvious. What's less obvious is that you can landscape your yard to offer your home those same benefits. It just takes a bit of planning in the way you site trees, fences, and other elements.
Some statistics to illustrate the point:
The Northeast: In most of your region, you want to take advantage of the sun's heat during the winter, so plant deciduous trees on the south- and west-facing sides of your home. This will do double duty: In summer, their leafy canopy will shade your house, helping to keep it cooler. It's also helpful to use a windbreak of trees or large shrubs to the north or northwest side of your home. This block will prevent winter winds from stealing as much of your home's heat. Check out our guide to gardening in the Northeast.
The Midwest: The hot, blazing sun can make Midwestern summers uncomfortable. Help your air conditioner by planting large deciduous trees on the south or west side of your home. To reduce the heating costs during cold winter months, allow sun's rays to reach the south and west sides of your home. If possible, grow a windbreak of trees or shrubs on the north or northwest side of your house. Check out our Midwest gardening guide.
The High Plains and Mountain West: Enjoy all those sunny winter days knowing your furnace is working less if the sun can shine on your home, providing radiant heat. We know that in many areas it's not feasible, but plant a windbreak if you can on the north side of your home. In summer, using deciduous trees on the sunny side of your house casts welcome shade. Learn about top plants for your landscape in the Mountain West and High Plains.
The Pacific Northwest: Let the sun work for you: On those rare sunny winter days, its radiant heat can help your furnace if its warm rays can reach your house, so avoid planting evergreens on the south or southwest side of your home. Instead, select deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter; they'll give the added benefit of shading your home from the hot sun in summer. Discover landscaping ideas and strategies for the Pacific Northwest.
The South: Pay attention to the breeze and use fences or shrubs to help direct cooling breezes at your house. Likewise, help stop the sun from turning your home into an oven by planting large evergreen trees on the south or southwest side of your home. Decrease the effect of the humidity by planting drought-tolerant plants next to your home. Avoid siting thirsty plants next to your house; they're better suited for other corners of your yard. Get landscaping tips for the South.
The Southwest: While summer heat can be intolerable, lessen its affect on your air conditioner by planting shade trees on the sunniest sides of your home. Because summer breezes are so rarely cool, use windbreaks to block the wind around your home. Check out plants and planting strategies for landscapes in the Southwest.
Southern California: Unless you're lucky enough to live on the coast where it seems like the weather is always nice, you'll want to combat summer heat by planting big shade trees on the south and southwest side of your home. Also take a look at blocking those warm summer winds: Plant windbreaks around your home to deflect them.
Minimize heating bills by doing the following:
Maximize your air conditioner's efficiency by doing the following: