Trees Protect from Sun Damage


June is a month when many people are enjoying warmer temperatures and spending more time outside to “soak up the sun”: gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking, or even heading to a beach or a nearby lake. But getting too much sun can have long-term negative effects on your health and make you look older than you really are. That’s why deciduous, broad-leaved trees around your home can keep you cool on hot days and stay safe from the sun!

According to the CDC, ( anyone working outdoors is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, even on cloudy days. UV rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. There are three types of UV rays. UVA is believed to damage connective tissue and increase the risk for developing skin cancer. UVB penetrates less deeply into the skin but can still cause some types of skin cancer. Natural UVC is absorbed by the atmosphere and does not pose a risk.

You might be getting too much sun and not even notice it: sunburn is not immediately apparent for several hours.

According to SCKIN.ORG, (, there are five steps to staying safe in the sun:

  1. SLIP on a t-shirt
  2. SLOP on SPF 30+ broad spectrum UVA sunscreen
  3. SLAP on a broad brimmed hat
  4. SLIDE on quality sunglasses
  5. SHADE from the sun whenever possible

Thankfully #5 is easy when there is a tree nearby!

According to Purdue University (cited by ), trees provide an important extra layer of protection in addition to sunblock.

How Trees Can Protect You and Keep You Safe from Skin Cancer:

  • Canopy density. Large spreads of dense foliage from trees like oak best protect us from the sun. According to Purdue University, a tree with 50 percent coverage offers about 50 minutes of protection vs. 20 minutes in direct sun.
  • When choosing trees for shade, choose larger, deciduous-canopy trees that provide an advantage year-round. Select good quality trees that are suitable for your location from a reputable source.
  • Time of Day. Avoid the sun from 10am-4pm – the highest, 60 percent, UV radiation period. Follow the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create shade from the summer sun and reduce air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent. The leaves offer shade in the summer and allow the sun to shine in winter
  • Large trees can help home heating and cooling energy costs