Designing an energy efficient home that is visually appealing is a goal many homeowners aspire to achieve. One effective and aesthetically pleasing way to achieve this is by strategically planting trees next to the house to provide shade and reduce the impact of direct sunlight.
Why Use Trees To Shade A House?
When the relentless Australian sun beats down, the impact on indoor temperatures can be substantial. Direct sunlight can turn a home into an oven, particularly during the searing heat of summer. Trees act as natural umbrellas, intercepting and diffusing sunlight, and reducing the need for excessive air-conditioning on hot days.
Environmental Benefits of Planting Trees on Your Property
The advantages of incorporating trees into your property extend far beyond their role in enhancing energy efficiency. Consider the numerous environmental benefits they bring to the table:
- Oxygen release. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees release oxygen into the atmosphere.
- Air quality improvement. Trees act as natural air purifiers by trapping and filtering pollutants from the air. Their foliage captures particulate matter and absorbs harmful gases, leading to improved air quality in the immediate vicinity.
- Providing habitats. Trees provide habitats for various wildlife, including possums, birds and insects.
- Erosion prevention. The root systems of trees play an important role in stabilising soil and preventing erosion. This helps maintain the structure of the landscape, especially in areas prone to soil erosion or water runoff.
- Temperature regulation. The tree’s natural cooling effect reduces the urban heat island effect in built-up areas and creates more temperate microclimates in residential spaces.
- Psychological benefits. Beyond the visual appeal, exposure to green spaces has been linked to psychological wellbeing, stress reduction and improved mental health.
Choosing the Right Trees to Shade a House
Not all trees are created equal when it comes to providing effective shade. Selecting the right species based on factors such as height, canopy density, growth rate and how deciduous they are is essential.
Height of the shade tree
When picking trees for shade, think about how tall you want them to be. Taller trees do a great job of casting shade over your house, especially on the roof and upper floor. Just make sure to check how tall the trees will eventually get so they match up with what you’re aiming for in terms of shade. The Pin Oak is an excellent house-shading tree which grows to around 30m tall and 15m wide. It has bright green foliage during the warmer months and red-brown leaves during the cooler months.
Canopy density of the shade tree
Look for tree species with lush and expansive branches and leaves that can create a big shadow. A generous canopy doesn’t just look good – it cuts down on direct sunlight, helping to keep the temperature inside your home more comfortable. This lessens the need for excessive air conditioning and reduces energy bills.
Growth rate of the shade tree
Consider the growth rate of the trees you’re planting. While rapid growth might mean quicker shade, it’s essential to balance it with other factors like space and the amount of maintenance required. Moderate to fast-growing trees can offer timely shade without overwhelming your outdoor space.
Deciduous shade trees
Opting for deciduous trees is a smart move, especially in the Australian climate. These trees shed their leaves during winter, allowing sunlight to filter through when warmth is welcome. In contrast, during the scorching summer months, the thick, leafy canopy provides excellent shade, contributing to a year-round energy efficient solution. The October Glory is a large, deciduous tree that turns bright red in autumn, and is perfect for shading houses.
Where to Plant House-Shading Trees
For effective shading, it’s important to know about smart tree placement. To plant your shade trees in the best spots:
- Know your home’s direction. Understand where your home faces and figure out the spots where the sun hits the hardest and when it does. In Australia, the western side of the house is usually where the sun is at its strongest, meaning you’d plant the trees on the western side too for maximum shade at the hottest hour. While it may restrict your view, anything that stops the sun from directly striking the window will make a significant difference.
- Ensure good spacing. Make sure the branches of your shade trees aren’t going to grow into power lines or other trees (unless you want the branches to bend to fit into the limited space available). Also ensure that the leaves aren’t going to drop onto the roof and fill the gutters, as this is a fire hazard. Lastly, place the tree in a spot where the roots aren’t going to grow under the house or pavement nearby – if they damage either of these it’s a costly fix!
Best Shade Trees In Australia
While gum trees are widespread in Australia, their suitability for shading houses is limited due to the less effective sunlight filtering of their canopy and large leaves. Their rapid growth to substantial heights, reaching 30-50m, may also be impractical for smaller properties.
Gardeners commonly favour Pin Oak and October Glory trees for shading houses due to their dense canopies, effective sunlight filtering and manageable sizes. These trees grow stunning, big, fiery-red leaves, making them practical and visually appealing choices for residential shade. Because they’re deciduous, they lose their leaves in winter, meaning the warm sun can shine on the house again without overheating it.
These shady trees survive in various soil types, including a loam mix, heavy clay and sandy soil, and prefer full sunlight.
Shade Tree Maintenance
It’s important to maintain the trees you’ve planted to shade your house. Regular pruning ensures that the canopy remains effective in providing shade without becoming overly dense and messy. Watering and fertilising according to the specific needs of each tree species will ensure healthy growth and longevity.
What If the Shade Trees Aren’t Making the House Cooler?
If the trees growing next to your house don’t seem to be effectively reducing indoor temperatures, it might be time to arrange a roof insulation inspection to evaluate potential issues in the roof space.
The inspector may propose a whirlybird installation for improved air circulation, find deteriorating insulation requiring an insulation removal or vacuum, discover deficiencies in the old ceiling insulation installation or notice that the insulation R-value is insufficient for the climate. It’s best to resolve these issues as soon as possible.
Amelior Insulation installs insulation in Canberra, Sydney, Blue Mountains and surrounding suburbs. Contact one of our insulation specialists on 0450 858 568 to chat with Phil and improve the energy efficiency of your home.
We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your insulation needs!