“How do you know what kind of trees you should plant?” I asked.

“That depends,” said my friend, who has run a landscaping business for about 10 years. “Customers want their yards to look nice, but good landscaping can actually keep a home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.”

“So landscaping can make a home more energy-efficient?”

“Absolutely,” he said. “The right trees planted at the right spot will create shade to keep a home cooler in the summer. And we can also use different plants to cut down on wind to help insulate a home during summer or winter.”

Before making our landscaping plans, we did a bit more research. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, strategically planting trees and other shrubs can save up to 25 percent of a home’s energy use.

Here are the department’s tips:

  • Strategic shade: Use deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves) to provide shade in the summer but let the sun in during the winter. Planting deciduous trees on the south side of your home, if possible. You can also shade walks or patios with hedges or even a trellis with a climbing vine.
  • Evergreens stop the wind year-round: Trees and shrubs with low crowns help block the wind best. Try evergreen trees and shrubs to the north or northwest of your home.
  • Green insulation: Planting bushes and shrubs at least 1 foot away from your home will help trap air and insulate your home. This can help you become more energy-efficient in both summer and winter.

Before planting any tree, know how it will grow. Make sure it will have plenty of room once it reaches maturity. This includes keeping trees away from power lines. We have a list of recommended species  on our website.

If you’re doing landscaping, remember to always call 811  at least three business days before you dig. Utilities will mark the location of any underground electricity wires or pipes to prevent costly damage or injury. The service is free for homeowners.