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  • A Beginner’s Guide to Shade Trees

    Posted on January 16, 2017 by Pete in Tree Services.

    If you live in Florida, you know how hot and humid summers can get. With summer temperatures in the 90s and high levels of humidity, you want to avoid the heat as much as possible. Air-conditioning your home is good way to stay cool, but as energy costs rise, cooling your house can be expensive.

    To escape the heat and cut your energy costs, plant shade trees around your home. Planted in the right place, shade trees can cool your home as they shade your roof, windows, outer walls, and doors from the hot sun.

    Read on to learn how to properly use these trees to keep your house cool and cut your energy bill. You’ll also find tips on deciding which shade tree works best for your property.

    How to Plant for Optimal Shade and Energy Conservation

    The first thing you should determine before you plant a tree is how large it will grow. Medium to large trees with 15-foot to 30-foot wide canopies should be planted 16 to 22 feet away from your house. Smaller trees should be planted 10 to 16 feet away from your home.

    Once you where you should plant your trees, place them on the east, west, and south parts of your property. These areas of your home receive the most sunshine.

    If you plant the shade trees on the east and west sides of your house, find a spot directly east or west of the windows on those walls. This placement will provide the greatest amount shade to your windows during peak hours of direct sunlight.

    Another area to shade around your home is your A/C unit. For this appliance to work efficiently, it needs to stay cool. Plant your trees to provide shade over your A/C unit to prevent it from overheating.

    Energy Savings

    With shade trees strategically placed around your home, you can reduce summer energy costs by as much as 35%. The US Department of Energy has predicted that proper placement of three trees around homes will save the average household $100 to $250 in energy costs each year.

    How to Choose the Perfect Shade Trees

    Now that you know how to plant trees to shade your home, you need to find the right tree to keep your home cool and reduce your energy costs. Here are shady few trees you can plant around your home.

    Live Oak

    This Florida native is one of the most iconic trees in the South. These beautiful, large trees are known for their Spanish-moss-draped branches. These trees grow about 50 feet tall and are the most wind resistant shade trees in Florida. They have also been known to survive multiple hurricanes and can help buffer homes from hurricane-level winds.

    However, live oak roots require lots of room and need moderate maintenance. Place your live oak at least 10 feet away from the closest walkway or foundation wall to avoid root problems and prevent tree instability. As live oaks mature, their small leaves and Spanish moss make cleanup a little more difficult.

    Gumbo Limbo

    This uniquely colored tree reaches a maximum height of about 30 feet tall. The unusual red bark has earned the tree the nickname of “Tourist Tree” for its resemblance to sunburned skin.

    Gumbo limbo is one of the most salt-tolerant trees, a feature which makes it a perfect shade tree for coastal properties. While its bark is soft and lightweight, gumbo limbo wood is surprisingly wind resistant and can withstand hurricane-level winds as well.

    Black Olive Tree

    Contrary to its name, the black olive tree does not produce olives and isn’t even related to olive-bearing trees. The only fruit it produces is a small black seed pod.

    Black olives stand 40 to 50 feet tall with a strong trunk and tiered branches. These trees often take the appearance of large bonsai trees. Black olive trees are not only beautiful, but they also provide great shade coverage. Each tier of the tree’s branches are covered in tiny leaves to give it a thick, dense foliage.

    Like the gumbo limbo trees, black olives also possess a high salt tolerance and are well suited for coastal properties.

    Beat the Heat, Save Money, and Beautify Your Home

    With the help of a few trees, you can make your next Florida summer much more comfortable. It may take a little time for your trees to grow, but once they mature, they provide much needed shade to cool down your house.

    Shade trees are an investment that will continue to benefit you for years to come. Not only will they cool down your house, but they will also reduce your energy costs and add beautiful curb appeal to your property.

    If you need help planting, relocating, or maintaining your trees, call a tree service professional. They will provide the services you need to improve your property.

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