Have you read this article from Forbes? As of February this year, new builds accounted for one-third of houses for sale. 

Or read this statistic from Trading Economics on how housing starts saw a 12.2% month over month jump? 

Here’s an interesting fact for Pennsylvania homeowners; did you know that 3,743 new homes were built in Chester County last year? Chester County hasn’t seen that many new builds in the last 20 years!

My point? New builds are at an all time high. You probably didn’t need all these stats to know this. As our trucks head down the roads of Schuylkill County we see new developments popping up every day. 

Today’s homeowners are offered so much flexibility when it comes to design. The problem? Most of us think about the inside- without ever considering the yard. We go back and forth over the right flooring or kitchen backsplash…by the time a family moves into their new build? They realize they’ve bought a beautiful home in a completely exposed mud pit. 

If you’re waiting for the grass to grow in?

Let’s Talk About Trees

Shade plays an important role in keeping your roof cool. Roofs with properly regulated temperatures are an incredible passive investment that will-

  • Lower your power bills
  • Protect against mold and mildew
  • And increase your roof’s lifespan 

And the best time to plant a tree? It’s during these beautiful autumn weeks. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), complete shade can lower surface and air temperature by up to 45°F. While you may not be seeing the investment back on your baby tree for a few years, it’s the perfect time to think ahead.

In this article? I’m going to give you a few professional tips from- of all places- a roofing expert. 

You might be thinking “Martin Roofing and Siding isn’t a landscaping company, why would it matter to you!?” 

Well, because we love healthy homes! And the amount of sun exposure your roof handles over the next 10 or 20 years can make an incredible difference in the integrity of your home’s structure, your power bills, and even your family’s quality of life. 

Before we take a look at which trees are best for Schuylkill County homeowners, let’s familiarize ourselves with a few gardening terms. 

Schuylkill County: Meet Grow Zone 6B

Ever heard of a grow zone? Before we bought our current home and settled in, I never thought about what plants worked best for our yard. As it turns out? Knowing your grow zone is essential to making solid long-term landscaping choices. 

This term refers to the hardiness of certain plants and helps you find what varietals thrive in differing climates. The United States has ten zones, each based on an area’s average minimum winter temperature.

For example, Pottsville reaches a minimum low of 22°F in winter. Because of this, it falls in the 6b growth zone. Here’s a breakdown across the US: 

Grow Zone for Planting Trees

Across Schuylkill County, we fall in growth zones 5-6. All of the trees we’re discussing today will fall under this range. 

Growth zone is by far the biggest factor, but it’s not the only one to consider! In this article, we’ll also take a look at: 

  • Average tree height 
  • How long until the tree reaches maturity
  • And how far to plant each tree from your home 

Ready to get started? Here’s the three best trees for Schuylkill County homeowners: 

#1. Red Maple: The Most Resilient Choice

If you have a hard time just keeping houseplants alive- don’t worry! A red maple is the perfect tree for you.  

These trees are the most popular in the US. They can tolerate extreme highs and lows in temperature and can survive in most soil conditions. They span across 3-9 in the growth zone, which makes them perfect for Pennsylvania homeowners. 

Just like our roofs, red maples remain strong against extreme weather. I’d like to think they have another thing in common with our crew’s work: Red maples are gorgeous. 

If you’ve ever looked across the Pennsylvania hills in wonder at the glorious colors? It’s likely the red maple you’re admiring. 

In spring, these trees show off their bright fiery red leaves, accompanied by clusters of flowers: 

Red Maple Tree

In summer the leaves change to green, and then to yellow in the fall: 

Maple in Fall

Red maples can grow up to 60 feet tall, and 40 feet wide. To account for the size of its mature root system these trees should be planted 20-30 feet away from your home. 

You might be thinking “That’s a long way from my roof! Are you sure this tree will help with energy savings?” 

Trust me. Though this seems like a huge gap, the maple will still provide full coverage at maturity, without threatening your home. For the best natural protection, plant the tree in the direct path of the sun so, at maturity, it shades your house for half the day. 

Most trees take 30 years to reach maturity. However, red maples are fast growers and can reach maturity at just 20 years in optimal conditions.

In a rush for full shade? 

This next tree hits maturity at almost twice the speed of a red maple. 

#2. Weeping Willows: Fast Growers

I’ve always been in love with weeping willow trees. Just look at how dramatic they are: 

Weeping Willow

These fairy-tale trees are just as well known for their fast growth as for their beauty. Weeping willows grow an average of 2 feet each year, taking 15 years to reach full maturity of 40 feet. 

These trees fall in a 6-9 grow zone and love moist soil. When planted in flat or on low-lying lots, Pennsylvania’s average rainfall of 49 inches offers the ideal climate for weeping willows. 

The only drawback? Weeping willows should be planted 50 feet away from your home. This tree can offer shade by blocking how much sunlight hits your home and keeping ambient temperature down in your yard. It’s full height isn’t often the best fit for direct roof protection. 

If you have a small yard, this isn’t the tree for you. But with ample room to grow? A weeping willow is a gorgeous addition to any style of home.

#3. Birch Trees: Best of Both Worlds

Birch Tree in Front of Home

Birch bark is a beautiful tree with deep roots in world history. 

In ancient times, birch bark was used as paper. It’s the national tree of both Russia and Finland. And Native Americans used the bark for the construction of canoes, due to its lightweight and waterproof qualities. 

The reason for its worldwide popularity? Birch trees can grow in almost every climate! With a growth zone range of 2-6, birches thrive in Pennsylvania’s weather. 

Birch trees offer the best of everything, they…

  • Can be planted as close as 20 feet to your home 
  • Grow at a rate of 12-24 inches per year
  • And some varieties grow as high as 70 feet, offering a 30-60 foot range of shade!

There are hundreds of birch varieties to choose from! Wondering the best type for your home? Check out this handy guide to growing birch trees here in Pennsylvania!

Caring for Your Shaded Home

Shaded Roof

Congratulations- you found the best tree for your home! 

We’ve talked in depth about care for your full-shade roof in the past but let’s take a closer look at how partial shade assists the health of your home’s exterior. 

The shade from a new tree will lengthen the life of your roof but the tree should never touch or scrape against it. While it’s normal for your asphalt shingles to lose granules (known as fall-off) this process becomes dangerous when unnaturally accelerated. Branches scraping against your roof can create bare spots, leading to weak points, and eventually water damage.

Smart homeowners know clean gutters promote a healthy roof. When planting additional trees for coverage, it might change just how often you need to clean them out. For this reason, I’d recommend installing gutter guards. These guards will minimize the amount of debris in your gutters and help protect your roof for years to come. 

Last piece of advice: look out for algae growth on your siding! Additional shade offers the perfect climate for its growth. 

Untreated algae can…

  • Create permanent stains
  • Lead to wood rot
  • And damage your roof’s underlayment

The good news? Algae stains are easy to clean off. You can read how to clean algae from your siding here. 

Protection and Beauty

Did you know planting a tree is one of the most common ways to boost curb appeal? 

Besides aesthetics, you’re also improving air quality, lowering your AC bill, and promoting your roof’s longevity. 

The benefits are endless and the beauty lasts for generations to come. 

Have more questions about protecting your roof? We’d love to hear from you! Give us a call at 570-345-0436 and guarantee your roof remains beautiful and durable for years to come.