Quick Tip: Your Plants Can Cool Your House

Cut down on air conditioning costs by planting to provide shade.

By Bob Vila | Updated Jul 31, 2020 12:14 PM

Shade Your Home With Plants

Photo: flickr.com

Watch Where You Plant Your Trees
Most people know that planting a tree to shade your house is a great way to keep it cool. Plants have a kind of built-in air conditioning system called evapo-transpiration. But contrary to what you’d assume, the south-facing facade is not the best place for a tree. In winter, the south facade is the one that gathers the most heat, but that’s not true in the summer. To prevent the most summer heat gain, plant trees to the east or west of the house to block early and late-day sun.

Be sure not to plant trees where their roots could damage septic systems, water lines, or your foundation.

Think About Climate
Deciduous trees work best in colder climates since they obligingly lose their leaves at the start of the heating season.

Let Air Flow When You Add Yard Plantings
Foundation and yard plantings can really lower your home’s temperature if you keep shrubs a few feet away to allow air to circulate. And don’t plant a row of them where they block the flow of air from cooler areas like valleys, ponds, or woods.

Create Shade With Vines
Vines on a trellis set a few feet from the house or on a pergola over the patio will also create shade and cool the air naturally. Vines grow faster than trees and are great for color and privacy as well.

Turn Down the Heat With Ground Covers
Replacing paved or bare areas in your yard with low ground covers can turn down the heat by 10 degrees.

Work With Nature
But before you plant groundcovers, shrubs, or trees, find out which ones do best in your area. Hardy natives are more likely to thrive with less water and fertilizer. Work with nature rather than against it and stay cooler this summer!