Cut the heat with shade trees

Considering the many attributes of tall, stately trees, we’re really missing a welcome addition to our homes, especially now in this heat.

Shade trees can help keep your house cool.

Shade trees can help keep your house cool.

If you haven’t been sitting under a shade tree during our extremely hot weather, it’s probably because you don’t have one!  As a matter of fact, if you take a good look around at our newer homes, many on smaller lots, shade trees tend to be one of the rarest species of trees in the landscape.  Considering the many attributes of these tall, stately trees, we’re really missing a welcome addition to our homes, especially now in this heat.

The most common misconception about shade trees is that they grow 100 feet overnight, drop tons of leaves to be raked up each year, and have root systems which demolish septic tanks and fields.  Added to these alleged problems are concerns about insects, disease and pruning.  If these are the reasons that folks are not planting shade trees, it is unfortunate, because for the most part they are unfounded fears.

Shade trees can also be planted for reasons other than shade.  When I select a tree for a landscape, I always look for two or three ways in which it can enhance the overall landscaping theme. Colour is  one of the most important factors, and whether it be foliage colour during the growing season or a spectacular fall performance, you’ll have to admit they do brighten up the yard.  For summer colour, consider the disease free ‘Prairie Fire’ flowering crabapple, the many new tree forms of magnolias, the rich colour of the narrow ‘Red Obelisk’ or ‘Dawyck Gold’ beech, the golden robinia or the chartreuse ‘Sunburst’ locust tree.  Fall colour specimens are too numerous to mention, but my favourite is the Acer rubrum family, which begin their red glow in late August.

Form is another important consideration.  Tall, stark buildings or farm and commercial buildings too often spoil our vistas.  Large pyramidal, round or columnar trees can soften and screen such structures and allow them to become more visually acceptable.

Let’s talk about the cooling effect of a shade tree.  I’ve mentioned before that one average-sized shade tree has a cooling effect equivalent to four household air-conditioners running twelve hours a day.  The net result is that your house could be 10-13°C cooler during our summer hot spells.  Think about that one as you lay awake at night, tossing and turning in a 30°C room!  Another big bonus is that the cooling effect of a shade tree doesn’t arrive in the form of a hydro bill at the end of each month.

If I haven’t convinced you yet that shade trees are a good investment, let me add the fact that they’ll keep your yard cleaner by collecting on their leaves the dust particles which would blow into your home, as well as sequestering carbon.  In addition, they produce oxygen.  They provide homes for birds, which in turn minimize your insect populations, and they act as a sound barrier to absorb a good deal of the noise from local traffic.  Shade trees also provide a great source of entertainment for kids, whether it be branches for swings, homes for tree houses, or just plain climbing!  Finally, they provide a nice retreat on a sweltering afternoon!

Now, if you’re still not convinced about huge shade trees, consider a slow-growing species or some of the new compact, columnar varieties.  If it’s leaves you’re worried about, ‘Green Pillar’ oaks keep theirs all fall and winter.  If insects are concerning you, gingkos, liquidambars and liriodendron are all free of pests. Many shade trees have very fibrous root systems which are quite safe in even tiny lots.  When you weigh the pros and cons, I think it’s fairly evident that shade trees are a welcome addition, not only to our homes, but also to the environment.  When is the best time to plant them?  Ten years ago. (But the second best time is today!)

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read