Windbreaks: Trees to Reduce Your Winter Heating Bills
Planting trees around homes is a tried and true concept used to conserve home energy use. Everyone knows that summer temperatures are cooler in the shade. But in winter, it is easy to forget that trees can help cut winter energy costs too. With some forethought, you can save money by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and northwest sides of your property.
Windbreaks, which consist of rows of trees placed perpendicular to prevailing winds, were greatly used in the Midwest to protect exposed houses, livestock, and crops from severe winds. The use of shade trees was especially emphasized during the 1970s to combat the energy crisis caused by Arab oil embargos. The recent concern over global warming has made tree planting and energy conservation important issues again.
“Planting evergreen trees and shrubs in certain areas around your house can create an effective windbreak,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Generally, most cold winds come from the north or west. An option for those sides of the building is to plant a dense row of evergreens. This will provide additional insulation for your building. Be sure to plant them far enough from the foundation to allow for growth.”
Creating a windbreak
The ultimate goal of planting a windbreak is temperature control. A landscape design that considers wind speed and direction can offer homeowners benefits ranging from reduced energy costs to more efficient landscape water management. “Wind barriers can channel winds away from your house and cut down on cold drafts getting in,” Andersen advises.
Choosing the best trees and shrubs for your situation is extremely important to ensure an effective, long-lasting windbreak.
- Trees or shrubs need to be winter hardy and should have a good history of being suitable for the site and soils.
- Select multiple species of trees and shrubs so, if there is a failure in a row, the windbreak is still effective.
- A mix of deciduous and coniferous plants is best and should be selected based on the purpose of the planting.
- Use native plants whenever possible.
Windbreak Tree Spacing
It might seem like planting trees close is the best way to keep the wind out. But tightly packed trees will become a problem once they mature. The more space you put between trees in the beginning, the longer your windbreaker does its job.
- If you’re planting rows of shorter trees, leave about 10 feet of space between each tree and 15-to-20 feet between each row.
- If you’re planting rows of taller trees, leave 15 feet between each tree and 25 feet of space between rows.
- Remember as these trees grow the space, they’ll fill in that space.
As the spring is coming, now is a great time to visit Fannin Tree Farm and look at some of our suggested trees for a windbreak in North Texas to be ready for next winter. These are just a few of the trees Fannin suggests for windbreaks.
Every location is different, and there is no perfect design that will be effective in all situations. Call Fannin Tree Farm and one of our tree experts can evaluate your planting sites and help plan an effective windbreak that will offer homeowners a variety of benefits for years to come.
Windbreaks are plantings of single or multiple rows of trees or shrubs that are planted for:
- Wind protection.
- Controlling blowing and drifting snow.
- Wildlife habitat.
- Energy saving.
- Living screens.
- Reducing livestock odor.
The effectiveness of a windbreak depends on choosing the right trees and shrubs and planting them at the right density and spacing.