The right landscaping can give your home more than just curb appeal, it can help with energy efficiency. This energy efficiency can add up to real savings in your utility bills. Before you run off to your local nursery to stock up on plants and trees, take a look at what we discovered.
First, answer a couple of questions:
The answers to these questions will help determine your energy efficient landscaping needs.
Landscaping for Shade
Consider your shade needs when choosing the right trees and plants for your yard. In the summer, tree-shaded neighborhoods can be up to 6 degrees cooler than their treeless counterparts. When you think of this past summer's heat, it makes you want to go out and hug a tree!
Trees can be either deciduous, losing their leaves in the fall/winter, or evergreen, keeping their leaves year-round. There are benefits to both types of trees in your yard. An evergreen tree (like the one below) can be used as a windbreak or for areas that you want to have shaded year-round. If you would like shade in the summer and sun in the winter months you should opt for a deciduous tree such as oak or maple.
Think about using bushes or a trellis with climbing vines to shade your back porch or patio areas. Ground cover plants can even help to cool air before it reaches your home. By adding energy efficient landscaping to a previously non-shaded yard, you can cut your home’s air conditioning costs by 5-50%. WOW!
Landscaping for Windbreaks
A windbreak is able to disperse the wind before it hits your home and takes the grunt of the chill before it reaches your home. A windbreak is able to reduce heating costs by lowering the windchill. It also provides a buffer of air space that works to insulate your home. Evergreen trees and shrubs can be planted to the north and northwest of your home to help stop wind. Evergreens are best for this as they maintain their leaves and are able to absorb the impact of the winds. If possible, you need to plant your windbreak at a distance of 2-5 times the mature height of your trees for the maximum effect. A fence can also help deflect wind over your home and help the windbreak.
Landscaping for Water Conservation
Xeriscaping is the ultimate form of reducing water usage while maintaining landscaping. The idea is to use native and drought resistant plants arranged in water saving ways. If you are thinking rocks and cacti you might be surprised. Depending on the region you are in many native plants can be used. Xeriscaping encourages you to group plants with similar water requirements together to help eliminate waste. It does encourage the reduction of traditional lawns, which are water hogs. With the addition of paths, native plants, and water features, the grass becomes the feature and not the main event.
Before planting we recommend chatting with someone from your local lawn and garden store. They will know what grows best in your particular area as well as how to care for your new energy efficient landscape. They love talking about this stuff and are a wealth of information!