Valentine’s Day is going to be here before you know it. Hundreds of millions of cards, knickknacks, chocolates, flowers, stuffed animals, and holiday novelties will be bought. But there is a better way to express your love and teach the compassion and love inspired by Valentinus, the patron saint of lovers.
To make up for all of the Valentine’s Day cards that will most likely get thrown in the trash, you can plant a tree as an enduring symbol of your love for your sweetheart and Mother Earth. By planting a tree around your home, not only will you honor your loved ones and the environment, but you will also save money and energy.
Flowers are so standard as to be expected. A tree takes your love to the next level.
Did You Know?
- A tree-shaded neighborhood is around 6 degrees cooler than neighborhoods without trees.
- In addition to helping cool down the neighborhood, you can reduce your air conditioning costs by around 15-20%.
- Windbreaks around the north, west and east sides of the home can cut fuel consumption by around 40%.
- The dead air space that is created helps insulate your home in both summer and winter.
- Trees tend to be cheaper in January and February than any other month.
Plant a Tree in the Name of Love
Although you want to plant your tree in the name of love and honor, there are many other benefits involved.
- Planting a tree in the right place around the home will provide shade in the summer and wind blockage in the winter.
- Deciduous trees allow you to take advantage of solar heat rays in the winter.
- The full leaves in the spring and summer shade your home, yard, HVAC system, patio, and other areas from the hot and harmful solar rays.
- Large objects like trees will create a windbreak for winter winds.
- Reduce energy costs by up to 30%.
- Improve comfort and time spent outdoors.
- Lower noise and air pollution.
- Increase the value of your home (around 10-20%).
While some of us are still recovering from a busy holiday season, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use this day as a perfect opportunity to display your love and appreciation for those close to you.
Deciduous vs. Evergreens
While there are many evergreens in the Bay area, deciduous trees are recommended for maximum energy savings around the home. This is because in the spring and summer, deciduous trees can effectively block the sunlight, while letting the warming solar rays pass through their bare branches in the winter.
Evergreens are “ever green,” meaning they are always green, providing shade all year long. Some people choose evergreen shrubs for a wind barrier against cold winds and larger deciduous trees for their shading strategy.
We recommend planting evergreens on the north and northwest sides of your home for maximum winter blockage. Just make sure they aren’t close enough to block the winter sunshine.
Since the sun travels on a lower southern horizon line in the winter, avoid planting trees on the south sides of your home.
Source: Arbor Day Foundation
Tree Planting Strategy
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
Don’t wait any longer to plant a tree. Trees grow faster than you might think. Depending on the tree you purchase and plant, it will start shading your first-floor windows within the first year and will shade the roof in around 5-10 years.
Choose a deciduous tree around 5-10 feet in height.
Go to your local nursery and speak with a tree specialist for information on specific species for the best results. 5-10 feet tends to be the best height for price and fast growth. If you are deciding between a smaller or larger tree, choose the smaller one. Larger trees have more “transplant shock,” meaning that when they are dug out and transplanted, they are more susceptible to things like drought and disease.
Ironically, smaller plants tend to grow faster and larger. They are easier to transport and plants. And they cost less too!
Don’t buy too small, like the ones you see at the supermarket for $10. These seedlings have a lower rate of survival and take way too long to grow for practical use. Speak with an expert at your local nursery.
Plant trees on east and west sided of you home to provide soothing shade and winter windbreaks.
Planting trees on the west and northwest side of your home will provide great mid-afternoon shade (when the sun’s rays are the hottest). Consider trees with low, dense foliage
Source: Arbor Day Foundation
Plant evergreen bushes, shrubs, and vines on a trellis to help shade backyard and patio areas.
We recommend planting evergreen trees, such as pine and cypress trees, on the north and northwest sides of your home for the best winter windbreak protection.
Shade your outdoor HVAC unit.
An air conditioning unit in the hot sun has to work a lot harder than one that is in the shade. Be careful not to have large tree branches directly overhead your HVAC unit as this potentially damage your unit. A tree that is well taken care of in the right spot, however, can significantly improve your HVAC efficiency and performance. Contact Service Champions for more tree planting advice for your HVAC unit.
When planting near power lines, choose species that don’t grow any higher than 25-30 feet.
Any taller and you will have to cut the tree for safety reasons. This could ruin the shape and pose disease and insect risks.
Plant trees at least 10 feet away from all structures.
This includes fences, garages, and buildings. There needs to be enough room for it to grow properly.
Consider adding a fence or wall in addition to evergreens for your windbreak strategy.
This will cause the cold winter winds to flow over your house instead of through it. For maximum screening protection, place the evergreens around 2-5 times the height of the trees away from the home.
When choosing a tree, talk to the experts at your local nursery.
Experts tend to put trees into three different categories depending on their function:
Screening: These trees tend to be evergreens. They grow straight up and have a lot of foliage for year-round screening. They can be trimmed like hedges and are best for your windbreak strategy.
Lawn Trees: Lawn trees tend to be deciduous and hardy. They provide seasonal colors and look very pretty around your home. For example, maple, ash, and cherry trees.
Patio Trees: Patio trees are deciduous, low, and round, casting a large circle of shade. They are great for screening hot summer sun and allowing winter sun rays to pass through.
The experts at the nursery should be able to give you much more information, including plants that go together, how to aerate your soil, and other water and energy conservation tips.
Always call 811 before you dig to prevent running into underground utilities and septic systems!
- The Top Trees for the Bay Area
- Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Landscaping
- How to Plant Trees to Conserve Energy for Summer Shade
- How to Plant Trees to Conserve Energy for Winter Warmth
- Landscaping for Shade
Or… Donate a Tree
You can donate money to the Arbor Day Foundation and have a tree planted in honor of your loved ones in one of America’s national forests.
Or any of these tree-planting projects:
- U.S. Forest Service Plant-A-Tree Program
- National Forest Foundation plants one tree for every dollar donation.
- National Wildlife and Fish Foundation has many programs that help conserve forests, parks, lakes, and more.
- American Forests plants one tree in honor of that special person for every dollar donation.
- Penny Pines Plantation sponsors many projects that improve communities and the environment.
- Join the Arbor Day Foundation and they’ll plant 10 trees in our Nation’s forests in your honor.
- Living Memorials Project plants trees as living memorials to the victims of 9/11 and their families.
If you aren’t ready to plant a tree for Valentine’s Day, consider a few houseplants instead. There are many psychological and physiological benefits to houseplants, not to mention the huge boost in indoor air quality.
So, in addition to that bouquet of roses, consider gifting any of the following air-cleaning houseplants (as recommended by NASA):
- Dwarf Date Palm
- Boston Fern
- Kimberley Queen Fern
- Spider Plant
- Chinese Evergreen
- Bamboo Palm
- Weeping Fig
- Devil’s Ivy
- Flamingo Lily
- Broadleaf Lady Palm
- Barberton Daisy
- Cornstalk Dracaena
- English Ivy
- Variegated Snake Plant
- Red-Edged Dracaena
- Peace Lily
- Florist’s Chrysanthemum
Before you purchase your houseplant, make sure it is nontoxic to children and pets.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Service Champions maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and was recently named a Diamond Certified® business for a 13th consecutive year.
Cover image source: Unsplash | Naveen Kumar