How to use landscaping trees to shade windows

Insulation in the walls and ceiling of your home create a barrier against the sun's heat. Less heat entering the house means less money spent on keeping the house cool. Windows, though, aren't as kind to your pocket when it comes to keeping out the heat. Even the best energy saving windows cannot stop all the heat from sunshine. So what can you do? Either shell out more money to keep the house cool, or add heavy drapes or blinds to windows to block the sun's beams. It's time to think green--deciduous tree green. Shade from trees is one of nature's free sources for energy conservation. The umbrella affect created from leafy trees shades the window.

Trees in a row, grouping or alone

A row of trees has its place in the landscape. Trees in rows create a border and may serve as a windbreak. A grouping of three to five trees in the landscape creates a woodland-like setting. When the objective is to shade a window, a single tree may do.

When it's hottest

Summer brings scorching heat with July as the hottest month of the year in the U.S. (it's a summer solstice thing). Windows on the east and west side of your house are impacted most by sunshine. Blocking the late morning sun and late afternoon sun helps to reduce solar heat passing through windows. That's when adding shade trees to the landscape is beneficial. Talk about going green! Windows shaded by trees means you can keep the drapes open to enjoy the view and still conserve energy.

Shade tree options

Look for shade trees with a growth potential of at least 10 feet taller than the window. Some options for shade trees (including potential height at maturity) include: American sycamore (100 feet), ginkgo (80 feet), horse chestnut (75 feet), red maple (60 feet), red oak (70 feet), silver maple (60 feet), sugar maple (60 feet), or tulip tree (80 feet). These trees offer colorful fall leaves. Solar heat contributes to energy conservation in the winter when the leaf-less trees allow sun to hit the windows and house.

Where to plant the shade trees

Plant a shade tree about 20 feet in front of a window. At this distance, the tree's roots will not impact the foundation. Windows on the west or east side of the house benefit most from shade trees. Besides shading house windows, trees can shade a parked car or the air conditioning unit, which can help to conserve energy during operation.