Well-planned landscaping can help reduce your summer air-conditioning energy usage. It makes sense that during hot weather, parks and wooded areas are much cooler compared to the temperature of nearby city streets. Shade trees can significantly reduce air temperatures in the summer, because trees intercept and soak up the sun’s heat while supplying cool moisture to the air.
The same cooling effect is true for houses shaded by large trees and shrubs. Occupants in shaded homes are more comfortable – and their air conditioners run less – compared to those living in homes with sun-baked roofs and walls.
Planting trees and shrubs in the correct location on your property can significantly reduce air conditioning energy usage.
Here’s what you do: Plant dense trees and shrubs on the west and northwest sides of your home to block the hot, setting sun. This is the single most effective landscape planting strategy. Plant tall, leafy shade trees on the sunny, south side of your home to further reduce roof and wall temperatures. Use grass or other ground cover around your home instead of paving material. The grass won’t absorb or reflect heat, which will help keep your house cooler. Use small trees or shrubs to help shade outside air conditioning equipment. This will help improve the equipment's performance. For proper air flow and access, plants should be at least three feet away from the outside A/C condensing unit.
Before you plant:
Remember that established plants will require less effort to maintain than new plantings and will generally be larger and better established. Make sure to plant large trees at least 30 to 40 feet away from your home’s foundation, while medium-sized trees should be at least 20 feet away.