Certain things in life I admit I take for granted. Trees are not one of them. When I sit in the park, under the lush branches of a tree to enjoy a break from the blazing hot sun, I am truly grateful.
Trees provide us with shade on a hot day or cover on a rainy one. They are nature’s jungle-gyms and give us privacy from our neighbors. Trees can increase the value of a piece of property and define an outdoor space. They purify the air. And who could forget photosynthesis?
Have you ever considered that something so pleasant and powerful could also help lower your electric bill? It’s true. Planting a shade tree on your property will cool your home as well your pocketbook. Just a few trees around your home in strategic spots can change the inside temperature of your home by at least a couple of degrees.
But it isn’t as simple as picking the strongest seed or the largest branch. Doing pre-planting research will avoid a misplaced tree and all sorts of troubles down the road. Here’s a list of helpful hints to get you started on your path to planting your very own shade tree.
Find an appropriate location:
Test your soil. Local nurseries have do-it-yourself kits. Or hire someone to do it for you. You can “correct” malnourished or toxic soil if necessary, and your shade tree will grow to its fullest potential.
Look around. Shade trees need plenty of space to grow – up and out as well as down (roots). Are there electrical or cable wires hanging above or underground? What about sun exposure and wind? Most shade trees prefer full to partial sun, and strong winds can cause a tree to break or fall.
Know your zone:
Check a growing zone map to ensure the tree you want will prosper in your climate and fit the ecological niche.
Choose your tree:
Fast growing. Don’t let anyone sell you a tree that won’t provide shade for 10 years. You may as well build yourself an awning or buy yourself a hat. Naturally pest-resistant is a definite must. Avoid chemicals anywhere around your home or in your soil. Deciduous trees will provide shade in summer, and when the leaves fall they’ll let in the winter sun. Find options here and here.
Most shade trees don’t require much more than water and an occasional nutrient (compost is great for them). But they are deciduous, and loosing leaves in the fall means raking, raking and more raking. Be prepared.
Plant a shade tree to help insulate your home – lower your bills and your carbon footprint. And don’t forget to be grateful.