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The not so dark side of trees (The fact about trees and shade)

The trees are making my house mouldy and my grass full of moss. This is what we hear regularly when we're on our quoting rounds. But shade from trees gets a bad reputation, with people often focusing on the negative effect. However, the positives massively outweigh the negatives when it comes to these natural assets nature provides us. Read on if you want to learn how shade from trees benefits us, and how pruning can increase sunlight when your trees shading the wrong area.

The tree is making my house damp/mould

Mould and mildew need only a damp, moist environment and organic material to establish themselves and thrive. Trees or vegetation that is blocking all light and is in direct contact with property can definitely be a cause. But most of the time the damp is caused by other issues such as roof and foundation leaks, high interior humidity, overflowing washing machines etc, but it is usually easier to just blame trees.

If you’re having an issue with trees causing damp and mould you can help prevent this by pruning them clear of the property. Often all that is needed is a 1 to 2metre space/gap pruned clear off property to allow air to circulate.

Look at the difference in clearance and airflow once correct pruning has taken place

Shade from trees can save you money

Shade from trees and plants is actually cooler than the shade from a sunshade, and this is due to the tree transportation process. This is when a tree releases water vapour from its leaf, and it cools the air around it. So if you have a tree that’s shading your home or garden from the most intense summer sun, it will reduce your cooling needs and the amount of water needed on your garden. This always helps when power and water are only getting more expensive.

In some states in the U.S.A, the power compies actual give customers trees to plant to help shade their home and reduce energy use! If only NZ could do this. The small investment of planting a tree can give you big savings.

Health benefits

Now, this is one you might not think of right away, but the health benefits from just the shade from a tree are fantastic. Leaves on trees actually reflect the harmful U.V rays that cause sunburn, as well as cooling the air!

Having a view of a tree from an office or hospital bed has been proven to reduce stress in the workplace and improve patients need for pain medication. So sitting in the shade of a tree during a lunch break or taking a stroll through a wooded park or area can do wonders for your mental and physical health.

"But im not getting any sun in the winter"

Ok so you didn't plant that big Oak tree in the garden, but it's there now but it blocks a lot of your winter sun. Put that chainsaw away you don't have to fell or remove that beautiful tree as there are pruning options that will allow you to have the best of the summer shade, the winter sun and all those other benefits mentioned above.

The main problem of winter sun or lack of it is that the sun is very low in the sky. What this means is that even small trees and shrubs can block the sun, but "topping them" (check out our blog Why topping trees is bad, can cost you money, and be unsafe!) is not going to help. The right pruning for the tree depends on its location.

If the tree is large or tall and very close to the area you want light, then crown lifting the lower canopy of the tree will allow light to flow under the crown.

For a large tree that's some distance away from the area being shade, a crown reduction might be the key to letting that low sunlight penetrate over the top of the crown and reduce its long winter shadow.

For the small trees and shrubs next to or close to the area that’s being shaded, you will find a mix of both crown reduction and crown lifted will work.

Sometimes thinning of trees is suggested, however, this offers very short term gains due to the regrowth rate, and the amount you need to thin from a crown or canopy to let enough light through is generally over the 30% rule. This rule is that when we prune a tree we should take no more than 30% of its mass, to take more can have a very negative effect on the trees form and health.

Right tree right place

This is a saying you hear us say again and again in our blogs and posts but it's really true. We’re all guilty of loving a bargain and people often see a tree on offer and think "oh that's a good deal" without even thinking about where we might plant it, how big it might grow or if it is evergreen or deciduous. These are just some of the important factors in buying and planting a tree. Having a tree suited to its location is key. This can be the difference between having a beautiful summer shade tree, to a tree that blocks all light and interferes with your house.

Read Treelands top tips for tree planting success to learn how to select, plant and care for your new trees.

To sum it all up the shade from trees is awesome, however, it’s sometimes not always appreciated the way it should be. Before removing a tree just because of the shade it casts have a think of what it offers you, and how maybe pruning it might be the better option.

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