Planting Trees and Shrubs to Maximize Shade and Home Cooling

Shading your house can help you reduce the temperatures inside your home as much as 20°F (11°C), reports the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Trees and other vegetation provide effective shading. Landscaping is a beautiful and natural way to block out the sun and provide your home with shade. A well-placed bush, tree or vine can not only add to your property’s aesthetic value, but also deliver effective shade.

Below are some ways you can get the most out of your vegetation for shading.

Trees and Shrubs
When planting trees, place them on the northwest-southwest and northeast-southeast sides of your home. Don’t plant your trees directly to the south, unless you live in a year-round hot climate. Plant shrubs and trees so they direct the breeze. Don’t place a crowded line of evergreen trees in places they will block cool air from getting through or around them.

Even mature deciduous trees with their bare branches in the winter can reduce how much sunlight reaches your home significantly. When you plant shrubs somewhat close to your home, they’ll fill in quickly and start to shade your windows and walls within a few years.

To keep vines from attaching to the facade of your home and damage its exterior, set trellises away from your home. This also allows air to circulate. When you place vegetation too close to your home, it can trap the heat and cause the air around your home to feel even warmer.

Dead Spaces
Planting bushes, vines and shrubs next to your home creates dead spaces that will insulate your house in both summer and winter. You’ll want at least a foot of space between your home’s wall and full-grown plants.

Wind Breaks
Shrubs and evergreen trees planted to the northwest and north of your house are a common form of windbreak. Bushes, trees and shrubs that are planted together hinder or block wind from the level of the ground to the treetops. Combining evergreen trees with a fence, wall or earth berm (raised areas of soil or man-made or natural walls) can lift or deflect the wind over your home.

Don’t plant your evergreens too close to the south side of your home if you want winter sun warmth. Windbreaks reduce the speed of wind for a distance that can reach around 30 times the height of the windbreak. Plant your windbreak away from your house at a distance of two to five times the trees’ mature height.

To maximize your home’s cooling, complement the strategic planting of trees, vines, and shrubs with a whole house fan. You can use the whole house fan in the evening to draw in cool air and reduce your home’s temperature.