Steve Curtis is a longtime participant in TEP’s Trees for You program. When he moved to Arizona 13 years ago, he wanted to plant shade trees around his Green Valley home but didn’t know what trees and plantings were appropriate for the harsh Sonoran Desert.

When he learned of TEP’s program, he jumped at the chance to participate. “I figured they would know what would do well here,” he said. “I could trust TEP not to sell me something that wouldn’t grow.”

Curtis has purchased eight trees through the program and plans to plant more. He says the process is simple. “You order the trees you want, then they email you and tell you which nursery the tree is at so you can go pick it up,” he said.

Curtis said that, while his trees were tall and spindly at first, with the proper care they have thrived. “You just have to take care of them,” he said. Both TEP and the partnering nurseries provide care tips to customers.

Many folks don’t realize the impact landscaping can have on a home’s energy bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-planned landscape can reduce a home’s air conditioning costs by 15 to 50 percent.

“Planting shade trees around your home, especially on the south and west sides, reduces heat gain, so your air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard,” said Senior Program Manager Edith Garcia. “That translates to a more comfortable home and a lower energy bill in the warmer months.” In the winter, she noted, the trees serve as a wind break, keeping your home warmer while reducing heating costs.

Shade trees offer environmental benefits as well. A shade tree’s canopy provides a natural habitat for wildlife, while its roots reduce erosion and water runoff.

Curtis is a big supporter of the program and encourages others to try it. “I really believe everyone should take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s really made a profound difference in the quality and appearance of my backyard and I think it’s made the paint stand up better. I can enjoy the windows I used to have to keep covered.”

Open again after a summer hiatus, TEP’s Trees for You program offers customers a wide selection of shade trees at discounted prices from local nurseries. Customers may purchase up to three trees each year on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.

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