Landscape Shading 101 – What You Need To Know
Reducing solar heat gain, becoming more eco-friendly, doing your part to save the environment, and enjoying lower electricity bills can be as easy as planting a tree. Aside from these benefits, you probably know that trees play a huge role in helping prevent soil erosion, while also nourishing the earth and bringing you fresher air.
By simply coming up with a strategic plan of properly placing a shade tree on your property, you can already increase comfort and enjoyment during the summer time. This strategic tree placement is known as landscape shading, sometimes also referred to as tree shading.
What Tree Shading Is
Basically, landscape shading is a kind of technique for using trees to give shade during times where the heat can be unbearable. Solar heat, when left unobstructed, can considerably raise indoor air temperature, which often leads to you having to turn up the notch of your cooling system. Because of this, you have to deal with higher electricity bills.
With proper tree placement, though, your indoor temps can be reduced down to 9° F, or 12° C. This is done by the process of evapotranspiration. This process involves a plant releasing water vapor. And since we are talking about trees, you get the bonus of having additional shade.
How Strategically-Placed Trees Help Reduce Temperatures
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says that air temperatures directly beneath a tree can be 25° cooler compared to the air temperatures above or near the blacktop. In addition, shade trees also help bring cooling costs down by as much as 10%. This is extremely important, since average households actually spend about a fifth of its total energy expenditure just for cooling purposes.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers conducted the first ever large-scale study regarding landscape shading back in the year 2007. A total of 460 houses located in Sacramento, California participated in the study, which was done during the summer season.
The studies discovered the following:
- Trees that were placed on the west and the south sides of homes reduced the use of electricity during the summer.
- Trees that were planted on the north side increased consumption of energy.
- Trees that were placed on the east side did not have any noticeable effect.
- Trees that grow faster are better in terms of saving energy, especially when compared to their slower-growing cousins.
- The effectiveness of shade trees are largely dependent on where they are placed. This is particularly true when it comes to their proximity to the house.
- The London plane tree was one of the best performers during the study, as it was able to lower the carbon emissions generated during the summertime.
All in all, it was found that the average household energy savings during the summer season was approximately $25.
DOE Tips to Follow for Landscape Shading
According to the DOE, there are various tree shading strategies that work better for some, depending on the specificity of the application. If you wish to launch a landscape shading project, here are some of the most valuable and important steps you should take.
- For blocking heavy winds and enjoying continuous shade, consider planting dense evergreen trees. Evergreen shrubs are also great additions for this purpose.
- For blocking solar heat that is at its highest during the summer season, you should go for deciduous trees. They are also great performers during the cold season, as they let much of the available solar heat into your home. During the summertime, the trees’ leaves are going to protect your home from the sun’s heat. During the winter season, the trees’ leaves are going to fall off, thus; allowing more sunlight to penetrate your home, making it warmer and cozier.
- For shading the pavement and ground surrounding your home, plant groundcover plants and shrubs. If you ant to shade an entire driveway or patio, go for a large bush. You may also opt for a row of shrubs. For shading your sidewalk, a hedge is a great idea. To make your patio area offer more shade and even beautify it, install a trellis and plant climbing vines.
- Shrubs are great for planting close to your house. These are going to fill in quickly and start giving your walls shade in just a few years.
- To ensure that you get the most out of your landscape shading project, it is a must that you take into consideration factors including the area where the plants are to be placed, the size of the area and the plants, as well as the shape of the shadows that your plants are going to cast.
- Before you create a plan for a tree shading project, you should first educate yourself about your area’s climate and microclimate. The reason for this is because homes located in cooler regions often no longer require additional shading, while there are others that only need moderate shading.
- The main advantage of fast-growing trees over the slower-growing ones is the fact that they grow faster, which means that they are going to begin providing shade in a shorter period of time. However, slower-growing trees are often longer-lasting. In addition, they are also less susceptible to limb damages, since they are less prone to deep rotting.
- If your home already has the problem of excessive humidity and moisture, allowing dense foliage to thrive right next to your home may result in bigger problems. This is why you need to make sure that the winds are allowed to flow freely around the main structure. This way, you can be certain that your home stays reasonably dry.
- Landscape shading is not just about function; it can also considerably improve the overall appearance and value of your home. This is especially true with properly-placed vines, which offer both aesthetic and functional value.
In conclusion, tree shading can be a great addition to your home, seeing that you can enjoy lower electricity bills and increase the value of your property.