Let Your Landscaping Cool Your Home

 In Keeping Cool

Towering trees are beautiful and economical choices for landscaping your yard. Be smart when planting landscaping and shade trees to keep your house cool naturally. On average, the U.S. Department of Energy says a well-designed landscape saves enough energy to pay for itself in less than eight years. Properly maintained landscaping can also lower your home maintenance, reduce water use and help lower noise and air pollution.

Tallahassee’s Climate

There’s no two ways about it, Tallahassee is hot and humid. In sticky regions like ours, the Energy Department suggests planting trees that will shade your home in the summer, but will drop their leaves in fall. This will let the sun shine through and warm your house on colder days, meaning you save on your heating bill, too.

Tallahassee is located in zone 8b, meaning that our average extreme minimum temperature is 20-15 degrees. Some of the deciduous trees – the kind that lose their leaves – that the Arbor Day Foundation recommends for our zone are:

  • Hackberry: It thrives in a broad range of temperatures and can also stand up to strong winds. It grows from 40 to 60 feet tall with a similar spread. It grows at a medium to fast rate and prefers full sun. Hackberry leaves are spearhead-shaped, and it produces small, dark red fruits that turn dark purple, making it popular with the local bird population.
  • Red sunset maple: This maple turns a fiery red in fall and sports glossy green leaves in the spring and summer. It grows quickly to 45-50 feet tall with a 35- to 40-foot spread. It prefers moist, acidic soil with no chance of salt infiltration.
  • American sweetgum: It’s a tall, pyramidal tree with star-shaped leaves that can get up to 70 feet tall with a 45-foot spread. The American sweetgum can come aglow with fall color, turning shades of yellow, orange, red and purple. The seeds are popular with several species of birds and squirrels.
  • Tuliptree: This tree is also called the yellow poplar and is the state tree of Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. They’re right at home in Florida, too, soaring quickly to 70-90 feet tall with a 40-foot spread. In May and June, it erupts with yellow-and-orange flowers that are shaped like tulips and also sports vibrant fall color. Those flowers are popular with hummingbirds while the seeds are enjoyed by birds, squirrels and rabbits.

Planting Trees to Keep Your House Cool

Shade from trees is a great way to reduce solar heat gain in your home and lower cooling costs. Even a young tree that doesn’t yet reach the roof can block the sun from a window. When you’re planting for shade, it’s important to know the size, shape and location of the shade that your tree will cast. That’s why you need to know not only the height of the tree, but its spread. In tree-shaded neighborhoods, the summer daytime air temperature can be up to six degrees cooler than in treeless areas.   A well-planned landscape can reduce your air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent.

When placing your trees,  it is a good idea to plant deciduous trees on the south side of your home to block up to 90 percent of the hot summer sun while still allowing breezes through. On the west side of your house, plant trees with lower crowns, such as one of the many oak varieties that thrive in north Florida and south Georgia, to shade from lower afternoon sun angles. Along patios, line up trellises covered in climbing plants, such as roses or vines, to shade that area. Lastly, shrubs and groundcover plants can cool the air around your home; just be sure not to let the beds get too wet next to your house.

If your home still isn’t staying cool even with your well-thought-out new landscaping, call the professionals at Barineau Heating and Air-Conditioning. Barineau can service, repair and install your home comfort system to keep it running in top shape and keep your family cool. Book online or call 850-580-4029.

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