With the change in seasons approaching, there are a couple of things that could be on everyone’s minds. How is cooling going to be sorted out for the summer? Or if you’re reading this before winter, how is heating going to be sorted out?
You’ll be surprised to find out that landscaping can actually help out. Or more specifically “Treescaping”, landscaping specifically with trees. Trees can be great for natural shade, which can dramatically cool down your home, or even allow it to be warmed during the winter, if properly planned.
Unlike evergreen trees, which retain their leaves and other plant structures all year round, deciduous trees lose or gain their plant structures during the seasons. Often growing and retaining them for summer, then discarding them for winter. For the trees, this has some positive and negative trade offs. The process serves as a means of preserving water throughout the winter, and protecting certain structures during the temperature drop. However, unlike evergreens, they will need to expend energy and resources to regrow structures, whereas evergreens don’t have too.
As you might have already guessed this can be used to your advantage, without harming the tree. During the summer, the leaves grow, providing shade in certain areas. During the winter, the leaves are discarded, and the light of the sun is able to reach the structures it once provided shade for. While this may seem minimal, this actually has a profound affected when placed and used properly.
Evergreens and the winter
As stated before, Evergreens are trees that retain their plant structures year-round. This can be useful as a means of breaking the winds that come from the North. It’s best to avoid placing elsewhere however, as it can disrupt the purpose of the other trees, which is to let sunlight in.
It’s important to be smart about where you place these trees, so they can be used to maximum effect. Remember that trees are most effective when they block the sun at angles. Shade is lost when the sun is directly overhead, but will return when the sun sets again. Prioritize placing them on the west, northwest, and south sides of your home, and do so near windows and other areas where light might come in.
Windows are gateways for the outside sunlight to come into your home, which can influence temperatures within. Providing shade around them (or not providing shade, in the case of the winter) can drastically influence how much it affects the temperature of your home.
Placement around decks, driveways, and other connecting home structures, is also important. They too can transfer heat into your home, through internal structures. Shading around external A/C units, and heat pumps also affects their performance and efficiency. Even providing your roof with shade will drastically improve efficiency, as it is part of the structure that receives the most sunlight.
It’s best to anticipate growth when planting your trees. What looks small, or what might have the perfect height now, can grow to be much larger, and in various directions. Learn about the expected dimensions of a full grown tree of the species you are selecting. Provide a reasonable amount of space from your home, sidewalks, driveways, powerlines, and more.
Anticipate a need for pruning and trimming, and whether that would be possible with the selected tree. Contact the local fire department and ask about fire risks in your area. If brush fires are common, it may be best to avoid planting a tree without some considerable distance.