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Home & Garden

Stay Cooler in Summer with These Fast-Growing Shade Trees

By August 20, 2015October 17th, 2023No Comments

A 2009 study conducted by the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that shade trees planted on the south and west sides of a house in California reduced summer electric bills by about $25 annually. The study surveyed the utility usage of 460 single-family homes in Sacramento, where summers are hot and most homes utilize air conditioning. Just as notable was the impact that a shade tree had on the environment. The study found that a shade tree planted on the west side of a house would reduce net carbon emissions from summertime electricity use by 30% over 100 years. When you also consider the beauty that shade trees add to the landscape, they are a win-win for everyone.

To get the cost savings and environmental benefits of a shade tree, be sure to plant it within 40 feet of the south side or 60 feet of the west side of the house, where it can most effectively block the sun from heating windows, walls and the roof during the hottest times of the day. A tree planted on the east side does not affect energy usage. The following species are fast-growing varieties that can help you enjoy the maximum benefits of shade trees.

  • American Sycamore. The American Sycamore is widely planted as a shade tree due to its broad, rounded shape. Sycamores grow rapidly at two feet per year and can reach 98 to 130 feet in height and similar width, so be sure you plant in a large open area.
  • Paper Birch. In cool climates with moist soil, paper birch trees grow as much as two feet per year and as tall as 60 feet. They feature distinctive white bark and foliage that turns bright yellow in the fall.
  • Weeping Willow. Weeping Willows easily grow 10 feet per year, and most varieties reach at least 40 feet tall. The rounded, drooping branches give the tree a distinctive shape.
  • Red Maple. The Red Maple is an extremely fast-growing ornamental tree that can reach up to 90 feet. It gets its name from its brilliant autumn foliage.
  • Northern Catalpa. The large leaves of the Northern Catalpa provide excellent shading. Beautiful white flowers bloom on the tree in spring. Growth is moderate to fast, reaching 20 feet within 20 years.
  • Nuttall Oak. Nuttall Oaks can adapt to a wide range of soil conditions and may grow up to two feet per year and up to 100 feet in height. The foliage deepens to a dramatic red in the fall. Nuttall oak acorns are a great source of wildlife food.
  • Hybrid Poplar. Hybrid Poplars feature an attractive oval shape and have been known to grow up to 8 feet in a single year. They peak at 40-50 feet in height.

To avoid the chore of gutter cleaning when you have shade trees, invest in Gutter Helmet® gutter guards. Gutter Helmet® keeps leaves and debris out of your gutters while improving the aesthetic value of your home. Call (800) 824-3772 to request a free quote.