POSTED: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 12:49pm
UPDATED: Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 3:03pm
Trees Do Not Only Improve the Landscape They Can Help Shelter You from the Weather
February 21st, 2014 — The last three weeks my car has been covered in pine tree sap. The original owner of the house had planted a row of desert pines on the outside of the driveway and a couple more on the other side near the house. They look great and stay green all year long. They also provide a bit of shade from the late day sun. The sap provided the motivation for today’s “Weather Talk”. Trees can be beneficial in many ways if you plant the right type, plant them in the right place they can help shelter your house from the weather and save you money.
Trees bring beauty to home landscapes, but a tree can also serve a practical purpose when it stands near a house; its shade can increase the efficiency of summer cooling and its shelter can save heating costs by protecting walls and windows from strong winds. Choose the trees you plant near your home using some specific criteria to ensure their long-term beauty and safety.
The tree you plant near your house should be of compact growth above and below ground. Wide, spreading canopies can fill gutters with spring and fall debris and even grow under roof tile or shingles, compromising roofing. Aggressive root systems can invade the sewer lines and foundations. Deep roots can burrow under basements in search of moisture, causing dry soil to “subside,” or fall away, resulting in cracked cement floors and walls. In fire-prone areas, use fire-resistant trees and plant them beyond the 30-foot open zone recommended by wildfire experts.
We live in a desert area. The U.S.. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Hardiness zone map for plants and trees based on that areas climate. http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ 
We live in what the USDA classifies as zone 8a. We have to have some pretty hardy trees to survive the desert heat and lack of water! The Arbor Day Foundation has a list of the 30 most popular trees for zone 8. Some of these are in my neighborhood and I will list a few.
• White Pine
• Weeping Willow
• Sugar Maple
• Tulip Tree (Yellow Poplar)
• Red Dogwood
• Pink Dogwood
• River Birch
• Lace bark Elm
• Black Walnut
• Leyland Cypress
• Saucer Magnolia
• Red Maple
• Hybrid Poplar
The Arbor Day Foundation also has a tree calculator. That will calculate the savings a certain type and size of tree planted near your house saves you each year based on your zip code. Very cool! They calculate the savings of electricity, natural gas, storm water, CO2 and its effect on property value. My 40” in diameter Southwestern White Pine in central El Paso provides $45 a year in benefits! Here is the web address; https://www.arborday.org/calculator/index.cfm ?
Here is the best list I found from the Arbor Day Foundation of what to take into considering when planning where to plant your trees;
A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. With a little research and a simple layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in summer and tame the winter winds. Your well-planned yard will contain trees that grow well in the soil and moisture of your neighborhood. Your trees will be properly placed to avoid collisions with power lines and buildings, and the aesthetics will increase your property value.
A proper landscape plan takes each tree into consideration:
1. Height. Will the tree bump into anything when it is fully grown? [sizing guide]
2. Canopy spread. How wide will the tree grow?
3. Is the tree deciduous or coniferous? (Will it lose its leaves in the winter?)
4. Form or shape. A columnar tree will grow in less space. Round and V-Shaped species provide the most shade. [shape guide]
5. Growth rate. How long will it take for your tree to reach its full height? Slow growing species typically live longer than fast growing species.
6. Soil, sun, and moisture requirements.
7. Fruit. No one wants messy droppings on busy sidewalks.
8. Hardiness zone indicates the temperature extremes in which a tree can be expected to grow. For the purposes of this quiz hardiness zone considerations have been disregarded. Check with your community's tree board or forestry department or a local county cooperative extension agent for a list of trees suitable for planting in your specific hardiness zone. (Arborday.org hardiness zones lookup.)
All this information makes me want to go to a nursery and buy some trees! Trees do add beauty to your yard, shade and wind protection to your house. If you pick our the right type of tree, plant it in the proper location and good tree will give you years of shelter, enjoyment and it may even help you save money!