Trees. Do you plant them on your property so you can enjoy their
growing beauty over many years while adding to the value of your home
in the future real estate market? Nothing wrong with that! But in
addition to aesthetics, trees provide three very practical benefits
that add to your comfort and well-being... and even save you some of
your hard-earned money.
Trees create a sound barrier
Living close to persistent noise can make you sick. In addition to the
possibility of hearing loss, noise has been shown to cause stress,
tension and anxiety. If your home is close to a noise source, such as
a highway or an industrial complex, planting a "noise buffer"
consisting of trees and shrubs can reduce noise by 5 to 10 decibels,
effectively reducing the sound by up to 50% to the human ear.
According to an excellent Web site hosted by Agroforestry, the best
results are obtained when the noise buffer is planted as close as
possible to the source of the noise (rather than close to the area you
wish to protect).
The Agroforestry site also recommends planting the trees and shrubs as
close together as the species will allow. Additionally, choose plants
with dense foliage, preferably foliage that is growing all the way to
the ground. As you might guess, evergreen trees provide better
year-round noise reduction.
If noise is giving you a migraine, I recommend a visit to
http://www.agroforestry.net/overstory/overstory60.html where you can
find detailed planting solutions to various noise pollution problems.
You can click on a direct link when you go to my Web site
www.landsteward.org and find this column under The Plant Man heading.
Trees provide wind protection
If you are troubled by blowing dust and debris around your home,
thoughtfully planted trees can reduce the problem. But reducing the
effect of wind on your home can also keep some dollars in your pocket.
Research conducted on the Great Plains has shown that up to 25 percent
energy savings for heating is possible from windbreaks. An evergreen,
properly placed, can divert cold winds away from the home. Locate the
windbreak upwind from the home, according to advice from the Colorado
State University Co-operative extension. Again, you'll find a link
to the CSU article at
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/garden/07225.html embedded in this
column at my Web site.
To reduce wind velocity, the recommended distance from your house is
between and three times tree height (at maturity) but you'll still
reap wind-reducing benefits from trees planted at a distance of up to
six tree heights.
Trees provide shade
Before you say "Duh," I'm not just referring to the shade you
enjoy while sipping lemonade in your hammock. Your home benefits from
being shaded from the heat of the sun, and trees are a natural
Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household's energy
consumption for heating and cooling, according to computer models
created by the U.S. Department of Energy. They estimate that the proper
placement of only three trees would save an average household between
$100 and $250 in energy costs annually.
While you're at it, create some shade for that air-conditioning unit
that's chugging away under the broiling summer sun.
In a nutshell, trees can reduce the headache-inducing effects of noise,
the nuisance of wind and the size of your utility bills.
Which specific trees and shrubs should you plant to achieve one or more
of these results? In many cases, this will depend on your geographic
location and any unique contributing factors that affect your
landscape. If you're unsure about what would work best for your
particular situation, send some basic details in an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to reply with some
Another benefit of trees? Privacy! And that's the subject of next
week's Plant Man column!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to email@example.com. For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed
newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org