Properly selected and sited landscaping can save you money on heating costs by providing efficient wind protection, or windbreaks. And don’t forget, the benefits from a living windbreak will increase as the trees and shrubs mature.
A windbreak works by lowering the wind chill near your home. Wind chill occurs when the wind speed lowers the outside air temperature. During the winter, if your home is exposed to wind, you may be paying more to heat your house than you need to. You can easily fix this by making some landscaping changes. Planting shrubs and hedges around the exterior of your yard can moderate the effects of the wind. The less wind there is racing across the surface of your house, the more money you will save. It’s as easy as that.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when planning and planting a windbreak:
- For maximum protection, your windbreak needs to be planted the proper distance from your house. First, figure out the mature height of the plants you will be using and then plant them anywhere from two to five times that distance away from your house. So, if you are using shrubs that will be 20 feet tall at maturity, plant them at least 40 feet but no more than 100 feet away.
- The most effective windbreaks block wind close to the ground so consider using a combination of trees and evergreen shrubs that have branches low to the ground.
- Typically, you should plant a windbreak on the north and northwest side of your house.
- Be careful not to plant smaller trees and evergreens too close to your home’s south side if you are counting on warmth from the winter sun. In the winter, they may block the sun’s warming effects if they are planted too close.
- In addition to windbreaks, consider planting shrubs and vines next to your house to create dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer.
- But remember not to plant too close to your house. When plants are full-grown there should at least 1 foot of space between the plants and your home’s wall.
- Make sure you use trees and shrubs that are right for your growing zone. Click here to find your growing zone by just inputting your zip code.
Even though winter is quickly approaching, it may not be too late to plant a windbreak for energy savings this year. You can plant as long as the ground is not frozen. Here in southwestern Connecticut (zone 6), the plantng window is still open but closing rapidly. If in doubt, check with your local nursery about proper planting times in your growing zone.