Trees In Florida

Trees in Florida are a valuable part of a landscape not only for their natural beauty, but also in helping with energy conservation. Florida homeowners can receive a substantial amount of energy savings from the usage of trees. Trees placed in the right location in a landscape will provide homes with shade from the hot sun during the summer, and protection from cold winds in the winter. This will help reduce cooling and heating costs.

How a certain tree species will perform these functions depends upon, the size (height) of the tree, if the foliage remains on the tree year round (leaf persistence), the shape (form) of the tree, and shade density of the tree canopy.

Knowing what trees to use and where to locate them in a landscape is the key. The following information shows how to use Trees In Florida Landscaping For Energy Conservation.

Types Of Florida Trees

Trees in Florida have different types of forms, density, leaf persistence, and size. Tree forms are considered to be Oval, Round, Pyramidal, Spreading, Columnar, and Vase- Shaped. Tree shade density is any where from Light, Medium, to Heavy. The three factors that determine leaf persistence is whether the species is Deciduous (shed leaves in fall, bare in winter), Evergreen (maintains leaves year round), or Semi-Evergreen.

Tree sizes vary from Small (up to 25ft.), Medium (25-40ft.), to Large (over 40ft.). The growth rate of trees in Florida are considered to be either Slow, Moderate, or Fast. Both size and growth rate depends on the tree species. Newly planted large trees can take many years to reach their full size.

Using Trees In Florida For Shade In Summer

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Large trees of 40 ft. or more offer shade by casting shadows over the roof of a typical single family home, protecting it from the high sun from beating down on it.  Note: Large trees need to be located at least 30 ft. away from a home to avoid damage from falling limbs during bad storms, and to avoid any possible damage to the foundation from the spreading of their roots.

Trees in Florida can provide shade from the hot sun for sidewalls and windows of homes. Small or medium sized trees will perform this function well, while not growing out of bounds. Place them at a distance of 7-20ft. away from the home. These size trees will grow faster than large trees, offering shade a lot sooner.

The east and west walls of a home accumulates the most heat from exposure during the long hot days of summer. Tree shading should be maximized on these sides of the home. Walls facing south will also benefit from tree shade during summer.

Windows on all east, west, and south sides of the home are the most direct route for the hot sunlight to enter inside. Trees shade windows throughout the day preventing heat from the sun entering the home.

Small trees can also be used to shade the outdoor compressor/condenser unit of an air conditioner system from direct overhead hot sun during the summer. The system will use less energy to cool a home, making it work more efficiently.

Using Trees In Florida During Winter

In the winter the sun is low in the southern sky. Homes in the north and central regions of Florida can benefit by heat from the sun, with Deciduous trees placed along the southern exposure. These type of trees will be bare of leaves in the winter from shedding, allowing the sun to warm up the home.

However, in south Florida where the winter is short and mild, Deciduous trees do not need to be along the southern exposure. It is better to have broad leaf Evergreen trees placed along the south sides of homes, because it is more important to use trees to cool them with shade during the long hot summer. The lowering of cooling costs offsets the cost of heating during the short winter.

The winter winds in Florida prevail from the north. Northerly winds often sweep cold arctic air into the state. They are felt most strongly in the panhandle area and the north central counties. Small Evergreen trees with dense canopies will provide the best protection from cold wind. The height of the tree and the density of the canopy can be effective as wind barriers. Trees in Florida used as windbreaks can significantly reduce wind velocity for a distance equal to 10 times the height of the tree. The greatest amount of protection occurs within a distance of 5 times the height of the windbreak.

Florida trees used correctly as part of a landscape will help improve the value of a home, by making it more energy efficient. Healthy beautiful trees are naturally attractive and practical. Trees in Florida have become the biggest part of landscaping playing a role in today’s demand for energy conservation.

Author, Kurt Kmetz

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Kurt Kmetz
Kurt Kmetz
Kurt Kmetz is founder and editor of Florida Landscaping Today and a Florida Lawn and Ornamental Specialist with over fifteen years experience in Florida landscaping.


  1. I have a Magnolia tree aprox 20 yrs old. It had.beautiful white flowers and alot of buds until this year. I have alot of buds and few flowers. The leaves are shedding daily with brown spots. I had a tree service look at it telling me that it is dying and should ne taken down.. The tree has split and is bleeding and has crotch rot. Can this tree be saved? Very expensive to remove and replace. Can you help with advice?

  2. Lynn,
    It sounds like it is dying and is too far gone to be saved. The problem the tree service has diagnosed it having is serious, and can be fatal.

    You can try having it treated but has to be done by a professional, that knows how to treat it and can only have access to commercial products. However, the chances are any treatment won’t stop it from dying.

    Perhaps one reason why they told you to have it removed, is if you have other Magnolia tress they can be effected by the sane problem by the disease spreading. Another concern could be it eventually falling over, causing some harm depending on how big and tall it is.

    I understand what you are going through and the decision you have to make. Unfortunately, Magnolia trees are susceptible to problems such as this when they get older.



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