Keep Coming, Old Man Winter – My Trees Will Keep Me Warm

Keep Coming, Old Man Winter – My Trees Will Keep Me Warm

In two days, its the official first day of winter, I realize that each day going forward, temperatures will continue to get colder and colder.

As I pile on the turtlenecks, the cable knit and the wool, I realize I'm adding so many layers it's like adding on half a person in clothes just to stay warm. Needless to say, I'm a "freeze baby," as they call it. It always takes me longer than usual to get warm on the coldest of days, like my body just refuses to adapt to the cooler temperatures.

It's these nights when I'm curled up inside with a blanket by a warm fire that I think about my trees. Yep, that's right, my trees. They're outside, but they're helping keep me warm in the winter.

During the blazing heat of the summer, I shared how trees help you stay cool. But planting trees can help you in reverse as well by keeping your home warm during the frigid winter months. And not only will trees planted strategically around your home keep you warmer, they'll save you money, too. A Christmas miracle? Nope - just sound science.

Here's how it works.

After leaves fall from deciduous trees, sun pours through tree branches to warm your home. To maximize this benefit, avoid planting evergreens on the south side of your home where they'll block winter sunshine. Plant deciduous trees there instead to get shade in summer and the sun's warmth in winter.


Think of your evergreens as windbreaks. Plant them where prevailing winds originate, typically the north or northwest corner of your property. When evergreens stall harsh winter winds on the way to your doors and windows, your home will stay warmer.

Plant windbreaks no more than one to two tree lengths away from your home, suggests the Arbor Day Foundation. Doing this can reduce 35 mph winds down to 10 mph. Less wind hitting your windows and doors means your furnace works less to keep your home warm, reducing your energy bills by 30 percent.

While windbreaks are generally planted away from a home, shrubs planted near a home can also reduce fuel consumption by creating an insulation layer of still air. Plant so you have 1 foot of space between your home's outside wall and full-grown plants.

And by planting with winter warmth in mind, you'll also pay it forward because not only will you use less energy, the utility companies will use less energy and emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because they use less fossil fuel to create energy. Christmas miracle, indeed!


Other ways you can reduce your heating bills and stay warmer including taking advantage of natural heat and light by opening blinds and curtains on windows facing sun, lowering your thermostat to preserve energy during the day, using curtains made of heavy fabrics to trap more natural heat and light and winterizing your landscape by properly pruning trees so they don't hang over your home and deposit sleet and snow on your roof. (Find some other great ideas here.)

To find out more about the benefits your trees provide, including energy savings, try Tree$ense, Davey's new, free mobile app. For more information, visit

In the meantime, strategically plant some trees, and then when the weather outside gets frightful, you can sing "Let it Snow" without fear of losing any warmth in the winter.


  • The Tree Doctor January 30, 2014 >Hi Steve, In the temperate zone, plant coniferous trees on the northwest side of properties to reduce prevailing wind. Trees interrupt wind speed until it resumes full speed at a distance of 30 times tree height. Plant deciduous trees on the south side to let the sun shine in winter and provide shade in summer. Hope this helps you! -The Tree Doctor
  • Steve January 30, 2014 >Is it beneficial to plant along the north edge of the property to block the colder winds from reaching your house?
Add a comment:
Featured or Related Blog Posts
  • White Noise

    I live 500 yards from train tracks and 5 miles from a major highway.

    The train typically whistles and rumbles, bumping along the track in a forceful, metal grinding push. The highway, in the meantime, sends out the normal grumbling hum-drum of heavy traffic as semi trucks move large loads, small automobiles whiz by them and occasional construction crews jack hammer.

    Noise. It has been known to cause anxiety, tension or even illness, and prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can cause hearing loss, the USDA National Agroforestry Center says in its report "Leaf the Noise Out." Today, some people even regard noise as a form of environmental pollution. Yet, noise is a part of everyday life.

    Read More
  • From Research to Reality

    Have you ever sat and watched a tree swaying in the wind? Sure, many of us have on a nice, cool, summer day. Now imagine studying that tree's canopy movement using 3-D motion tracking - like a video game showing how a tree, its branch structure and leaves billow in the breeze, analyzing each fraction of movement.

    And what if this type of tool can actually help you determine how stable that tree really is when it's being shaken by air currents or even how much strength is sacrificed in the process?

    What could this do for an arborist? A lot. It can help them better assess safety risks when climbing and pruning a tree. It can even help them determine the entire pruning plan to do what's necessary to restore or retain that tree's normal strength. What does this do for you - the person enjoying the tree on a daily basis? Even more. It means you get to watch that tree grow happier and healthier and stronger for a longer period of time, adding value to a property and providing all the benefits for which trees are best known.

    Read More
  • Keep Your Cool

    I took my kids to the zoo today.

    And it was hot.

    While 81 degrees really isn't that scorching, the humidity was 90 percent. It was muggy - that kind of humid where your skin feels sticky and clammy, your breath short, your clothes clingy and your feet heavy.

    Read More
  • Head in the Clouds

    Last summer, on a day when the sky was a perfect, azure blue, my 3½-year- old daughter, Sylvia, stopped playing in her sandbox and came over to sit in the patio chair beside me. She sunk her body into the seat and leaned her head as far back as the recliner would let her. Exhaling with a giant sigh, reflecting her happiness and welcome break from her time spent building castles and small villages, she said, "Momma, put your head back and look up at the beautiful trees in the blue sky."

    It was the first time she said something that seemed so adult because it was so reflective and observant. I immediately complied. And the rush of a typical day, along with its deadlines and constant interruptions, melted away. We watched the soft, fluffy clouds roll by and the wind flutter every leaf on every tree, commenting on the sound and the way the light filtered through the trunks as it descended in the sky. But mostly we just observed. And, in that moment, we made a mother-daughter memory.

    Many of my family's memories tend to center around nature. On a recent visit to the beach, Sylvie and I made wind chimes out of seashells. After each addition, she'd pick up the chime to hear the tink, tink, tink of the shells as the wind caught them, listening intently and then saying we "should add just one more." We have spent time during every season in local parks, building snowmen and sledding in winter, observing new plant buds in spring, smelling sweet flowers in summer and collecting the prettiest leaves in the fall. We tend to have the most fun in our own backyard. I think it's because we spend the most time there working the soil and observing. We've planted many vegetable, fruit and flower seeds in our garden together - digging holes, dropping seeds in, covering them up and giving the soil extra little pats along with water to get it moist. We have sat under many a tree and reflected on birds flying to and from their nests, watched bunnies hopping around the garden and just enjoyed the shade. But this will be the first year we plant a tree together.

    Read More
  • Show Me the Money!

    OK, I have an experiment I'd like you to try with me.

    Go outside, walk up to one of your trees, gently grab one of the lower branches and carefully uncurl one of the leaves. Now take a close look (I'm envious of those of you in the south and west who can do this now - northerners will have to wait a bit…hang in there, spring is almost here.)

    Do you see something green? (Your answer should be yes.)

    Read More

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.