Plant trees this spring

  • Posted: 03.29.2017
rows of trees

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, proper placement of just three trees can save an average household between $100 and $250 in energy costs each year. That’s a huge incentive to visit your local nursery this spring and check their stock of shade trees. You’ll benefit because shade that protects your home from the summer sun, and planting a windbreak can also divert winter winds.

According to the Iowa nonprofit organization, Trees Forever, you’ll gain the most energy efficiency from planting in these areas (in order of savings potential):

  • 15-60 feet from west side of home or building
  • 15-60 feet from east side of home or building
  • 15-25 feet from south side of home or building
  • Evergreens on north and west sides of home or building as windbreak 

Another tip from Trees Forever: Plant trees to shade sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other “built surfaces” in your landscape to help those areas stay cooler too. These surfaces absorb heat (particularly darker-colored surfaces) and release it back to the environment. Shading these areas keeps the whole property cooler and more comfortable on hot summer days.

Watch out for power lines
The tiny tree you pick out this spring will grow taller within a few years, so choose the right tree for the right spot. If you have power lines nearby, follow these zone rules:

  • Zone 1 runs from right under the power line to about 20 feet away. In this area, plant trees or shrubs that will not get any taller than 25 feet (ornamental trees).
  • Zone 2 runs from 20 feet to 50 feet from power lines; in this zone, choose trees that get no taller than 35 feet (medium trees).
  • Zone 3 is farther than 50 feet from power lines; any size tree is appropriate.

Follow the Roadmap for Selecting and Planting Trees and also find lists of 5 recommended trees in each of these categories: Large, Medium, Small and Conifer on the Trees Forever website

For safety and to prevent cutting any utility lines or pipes, Iowa law requires a call to Iowa One Call (811) at least 48 hours before digging a hole. There is no charge for this service.  

More resources
To find out more about trees, planting, maintenance and more, link to these sources.