7 Energy-Efficiency Landscaping Ideas
Energy-efficient landscaping can make your home more comfortable while conserving vital natural resources. Landscape water use accounts for about 30 percent of residential water use, according to the EPA. A well-designed and energy-efficient landscape can reduce your heating, cooling, and lighting costs and has additional benefits such as lower maintenance costs, a reduction in water use, a quieter home, and cleaner air.
1. Construct windbreaks There is nothing that rivals the wind-buffering and shade-producing power of trees. Windbreaks provided by trees can help cut winter heating costs by up to thirty percent, and a single shade tree provides more cooling power than multiple air conditioners. Tree-shaded yards are much cooler than sunny yards, allowing your clients to save on cooling costs for the home and watering expenses for the lawn. When planting windbreaks, keep in mind that three rows of trees work best. Plant a variety of species, with low-growing flowers trees and shrubs closest to the house, followed by deciduous trees, and then evergreens farthest out. This will help to allow a breeze through when cooling is needed but prevent a wind tunnel effect from freezing the house solid.
2. Use fences to direct the breeze Pay attention to the breeze and which way it tends to blow. In warmer areas, erect fences, or plant shrubs to help point that breeze towards the home. Fences can also be used to slow bitter winter winds in colder climates. The best fences to use are those that are somewhat open or contain semi-porous sections. Solid fences divert air overhead and don’t allow for more moderate airflow.
3. Plant drought-tolerant plants In arid climates, plant species such as succulents and other plants that aren’t as water dependent. This allows homeowners to conserve water and energy by incorporating plants that are well-adapted to a drier weather pattern. This is a bonus for those of us looking for a more low-maintenance approach to gardening. We won’t have to water as often, saving both time and money.
4. Construct a pergola or awning In warmer areas, an east-facing porch, patio, or deck will stay cooler in the afternoon. This provides maximum shade at the hottest time of day. The addition of an open cover, such as a pergola, helps to move cool breezes around the house without trapping heat, like an enclosed porch might be prone to do.
5. Plant low-maintenance ground cover species Plant easy-to-grow ground covers that are composed of either natural plants or dark-colored materials. While a natural lawn or plants work best to absorb heat, these can be costly and environmentally damaging to grow in hot, dry climates. If that’s the case, lay down dark stone or wood chips to help absorb the heat and prevent it from being reflected back up onto the house.
6. Incorporate natural water features Water features can cool small areas. Construct a small pond or fountain–ideally one that is naturally self-sustaining and refilling–to help cool the air of the entire landscape.
7. Plant vines Sunlight infiltration can be controlled by planting several annual vines over windows that need additional shade. Plant these on a trellis or even just wind them to surround a window. By planting a deciduous vine, the leaves will create hade during the summer but then die back, allowing light in for the colder winter months.