How Green Landscaping Works

Landscape Shading

One of the easiest green landscaping techniques is as simple as planting a tree. The technique known as shading is the strategic placement of a tree to provide shade from the warm summer sun. Unblocked, solar heat from sun rays can dramatically increase the temperature inside your home, which will increase the strain put on your air conditioner. However, the proper placement of a tree can reduce temperatures by up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) through water vapor evaporation and transpiration, as well as the shade the tree provides [source: U.S. Department of Energy].

When using shading to cool your home, it is important to choose the right tr­ee for your project. If you are looking for a tree to keep the temperature down primarily in the summer months, be sure to select a deciduous tree. In the summer the leaves of deciduous trees will protect your home from the heat of the sun; in the cold of winter the leaves will fall from the tree and allow the sunlight to keep your home warm.

Other important considerations that will impact the effectiveness of the shading are tree size, shadow size and growth rate. Obviously, the larger the tree, the more shade it will likely provide. However, it is also important to take into account the size and shape of the shadow it will cast. Trees with long, horizontal branches will create wider shadows, which may better suit the architecture of your home. Similarly, trees with high crowns will cast a bulk of their shadow further from the base of the tree -- so be sure to plant your shading tree accordingly to maximize the results. Finally, it is often beneficial to select a tree with a slower growth rate. Though you may have to wait longer for it to grow large enough to shade a large area, trees with slower growth rates are denser and better equipped to resist damage from insects and weather [source: U.S. Department of Energy].

Click on the next page to see what landscaping windbreaks can do.