Windbreaks reduce energy costs
If you found it tough to ward off the blowing snow and bitter winds Missouri was dealt this past winter, think windbreaks.
Natural barriers consisting of trees, evergreens and bushes, are a tried-and-true method to diminish that winter chill and reduce consumption of fuel by 10% to 25%.
“Windbreaks can reduce wind velocities and deflect wind away from buildings,” says Chris Starbuck, University of Missouri Extension horticulturist.
Since prevailing winter winds in Missouri are from the north and northwest, plant your protective windbreaks to the north and northwest of your home. Most effective windbreaks are planted in U or L shapes.
Where space is available, plant windbreaks to extend about 50 feet beyond each corner of the area you are trying to protect.
The most effective area of a windbreak is at a distance from four to six times the height of the trees.
Windbreaks reduce air movement around the home, slowing heat loss from building walls.
The most effective windbreaks can reduce wind velocity as much as 50%. Several rows are more effective than a single row of trees.
When there is room for only one row of trees, pines are the most satisfactory for Missouri’s climate.
Plants also reduce heat losses from the home by creating dead air space along walls. A foundation planting of evergreens reduces movement close to the house, creating a layer of still air.
Natural air conditioner
For summer shade, plant to the south and southwest of the house.
The best trees for summer shade, which also provide minimum shade in the winter, are those with spreading branches and few fine twigs.
Examples of large trees with open branching structure are ginkgo, Kentucky coffee tree, and white or green ash. Select some trees large enough to throw shade on the roof of the house on a midsummer afternoon.
Plant large trees at least 20 feet from the house. Small, flowering trees, such as redbud, may be placed closer than 15 feet to provide some shade to the side of the building.
For more information on windbreaks, see MU Extension guide G6910, “Landscape Plantings for Energy Savings,” available for purchase or free download at extension.missouri.edu/
Source: MU Cooperative Media Group
This article published in the March, 2010 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.