As homeowners, many of us go to great lengths to conserve energy in our homes.
As homeowners, many of us go to great lengths to conserve energy in our homes. We replace older windows, beef up insulation, install solar shades, and take other similar measures, but we sometimes overlook the dramatic impact of a much simpler act: planting a tree. Studies show that a well-planned landscape can reduce a previously unshaded home’s summer air conditioning consumption by 15 to 50 percent. The shade provided by a few deciduous trees, planted strategically due west of west-facing surfaces and windows, can have an enormous impact. Plus, trees help save energy in the summer by directly cooling the air as water evaporates from their leaves.
Fall is a good season to start adding those deciduous trees to your landscape. Trees planted in the spring tend to put most of their energy into producing twigs and leaves. Fall planting, on the other hand, supports the development of a robust root system. With (hopefully) several weeks to go before weather cold enough to freeze the ground sets in, we are presented with a great opportunity to establish the roots of trees that we will be able to enjoy as soon as next spring.
Now, the question is what to buy. The species of tree is an entirely personal choice, but, where possible and practical, we love to plant trees that will grow to at least forty feet. This allows you to plant them at a sufficient distance from the house, while still enjoying the benefits of the summer shade they provide. We also favor trees that are native to our area; these trees are less vulnerable to disease and pests, and provide adequate hardiness in our summer and winter weather extremes. If you want to save money and headaches, we would recommend buying and planting younger specimens. Opting for the more mature trees will give you more of an instant effect, but those transplants don’t tend to establish themselves as well as the younger specimens (and they cost a lot more!).
Few things can make a hot summer day as cool and pleasant as passing under the canopy of a towering shade tree. So, before you put that garden to bed for the winter, consider planting a tree; the planet, your wallet, and probably every passerby will thank you.
— The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee