Plan Ahead for Spring Planting

MGE has tips to help you save energy and beautify your outdoor space.

Child and adult planting a tree
As spring nears, it’s almost time to begin outdoor projects. In addition to adding beauty to your home, carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
To achieve maximum savings, it’s key to plant the proper tree in the proper place. Use these tips for energy efficiency:

  • Plant large, leafy trees on the east and west sides of your home to provide maximum summertime shade and lower the surrounding air temperature. They should be planted at least 20 feet from the side of your home. A six-foot-tall tree planted near your house will shade windows in the first year. That same tree will shade the roof in 5 to 10 years.
  • Trees with lower leaves and branches work well on the west side of your home to offer shade from lower sun angles in the afternoon.
  • Position trees and shrubs to shade air-conditioning units. Equipment that operates in the shade will use less electricity; however, be sure not to block the airflow.
  • Plant bushes next to your house to create air space that will provide insulation year-round.


Tips for safe planting

Be sure to contact Diggers Hotline at least three days before digging. This free service will help you dig safely and avoid costly fines.
And, remember to plant trees away from overhead power lines—trees that grow too close to power lines can cause outages. See MGE’s list of the 10 best trees to plant near power lines.

Don’t forget the shade

Adding external shading in the form of awnings, trellises or overhangs can help prevent unwanted sunlight from entering your home. They don’t have to be complex.
For south-facing windows, a shading device should be based on window size. For example, with a window that is 36 inches tall, the shading device should be placed 9.6 inches from the top of the window. It should be 21.6 inches deep extending out from the house. There are online calculators to help determine where to install a shading device based on window size.

For west-facing windows, the shading device needs a vertical component to block summer sun. Adding hanging vines to the shading device will help further block the sun. Consider creating a grid-like structure with plastic or rope, then add climbing vines. Vines that have leaves in spring and summer that fall off in fall or winter will help keep sun out during the summer and allow in warmth during the winter.

Get free advice from MGE energy experts

MGE energy experts are available to answer questions and provide tips on landscaping for energy efficiency. They are available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at (608) 252-7117 or

published: Feb-27-2023