Plant a tree, save on your utility bills

Properly sited deciduous trees will help keep your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Photo by Kathie Rowell


Wildlife habitat.


And let’s not forget tire swings.

There are lots of reasons to add  trees to your landscape.

But did you know they can actually save you money?

A properly sited tree can reduce your utility bills by up to 30 percent, according to LSU AgCenter.

So where’s the proper site? The AgCenter recommends planting deciduous trees on the southern and western sides of your house. In summer, their shade will reduce heat gain, saving you money on air conditioning bills. Providing shade over your air conditioning unit will also increase its efficiency.  After their leaves drop, deciduous trees allow sunshine through to help warm the house in winter. And evergreen trees planted on the north side of the house can block frigid winds.

Even if you don’t have enough room for a large tree, you can still save some money. Just use small trees, vines and shrubs for the same purpose.

Sound good? Before you rush out and buy a mighty oak for your garden, make sure you have enough room for it.

An obvious mistake to avoid is planting a large tree under utility lines. Unless, of course, you like the flat-top look.

Not so obvious is accounting for how wide the tree will get. A good rule of thumb, according to the AgCenter, is to figure the mature width, then leave half that distance between the tree and buildings, utility lines or other trees.

The AgCenter has a handy reference to help you choose a tree that will fit your lot and your needs. You can find it at

Winter is the perfect time to install trees in the South because it allows their roots to start making themselves at home during mild spring weather. You want to give them as much time as possible to dig their toes in before the blast furnace of July and August arrives.

And just think. In a few years, it will return the favor by shielding your house from that same summer sun.

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