When the harsh summer sun beats down and temperatures soar, shade trees come to the rescue. These workhorses in the landscape do more than provide a place for you to cool down, though we won't minimize the importance of that. In addition to benefits such as improving air quality and providing beauty, their cooling effect translates to lower energy bills, a welcome relief for any homeowner.
A number of energy companies, nonprofits, municipalities, and other government agencies nationwide give away trees to homeowners or provide them at reduced costs in an effort to reduce energy demands and help the environment.
Place your shade trees in strategic locations in the landscape and you will be on your way to an environment that will help you save money. For example, plant trees on the west side of your home for cost-reducing shade in the summer.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shade trees can result in a 25 percent reduction in energy costs. That can amount to $100 to $250 annually. Trees also boost the value of your property by as much as 15 percent.
"The key when adding any tree to your landscape is to make sure the tree is healthy," says Dana Karcher with the Alliance for Community Trees. "Make sure the quality of the tree is good. Look for good branching structure and avoid rootbound plants and those with broken branches or nicked bark."
When adding a tree to your landscape, consider the location and the size of tree when fully grown. The last thing you want to do is plant a tree under utility lines and watch it grow, only to have to trim it back or remove it. Place trees in spots where they are free to grow to their natural size, giving you their best benefits.