Designing a house to be energy efficient is just the first step in green living. The second is to plan and organize an energy efficient lawn and garden. This will help conserve water, cut down on heating and cooling costs, and offer more environmentally friendly solutions for lawn care and maintenance. Just one well placed shade tree can cut a home’s energy bill by 25 percent. Below is a complete guide to how a landscape can be a lot more than just aesthetically pleasing.
Natural Wind Breaks and Shade
Revolving mostly around trees and ground cover, landscaping a house to be energy efficient has a massive effect on heating and cooling costs. Both evergreens and deciduous trees play their role in keeping a home’s energy expenses down. Evergreens serve their purpose best during the winter, acting as wind breakers. Successful wind breaks have the potential to cut heating costs by up to 30 percent. Keeping their leaves year round, evergreens are perfect the perfect solution for blocking cold northwest winds. Intentionally positioned to block northern temperatures, evergreens serve their purpose best when planted thickly in rows. The density of the trees is much more important to their functionality than their height.
On the other side of the house, deciduous trees serve their purpose during both hotter and cooler seasons. Planted on the southern side of a home, deciduous trees will keep up to 90 percent of the summer sun away from a house. This is a big deal in maintaining energy efficient cooling bills. The amount of sun hitting a house is directly related to the amount of work any air conditioning unit has to do. For example, a roof shielded from the sun does up to ten percent of an air conditioners job for it and just three well positioned shade trees can cut cooling costs in half. Deciduous trees function best when planted to shield windows on the south and west sides of a home. During the winter months, these trees lose their leaves, opening up enough space for the winter sun to play a role in heating the house.
Stone and Liquid Surfaces
Both stone and liquid mediums play a part in the temperature of a house. Light colored stone or concrete surfaces reflect heat, warming the surrounding environment. This is great during the winter or on a cool evening. However, darker colors and stone may be best during the summer. Cooling their surroundings and getting hotter themselves, these surfaces absorb and trap heat instead of sending it back out into the environment.
Depending on its location, water can also either cool or heat a specific area. Any water located upwind will noticeably lower an area’s temperature. Anything from a large pond to a small fountain can make a difference. Water located on the south side of a home can function as supplemental heating. Specifically in the form of snow, water’s ability to reflect light has an immense heating effect on its surroundings. Leaving an open lawn on the south side of a home is the best way to collect this natural heating source when it’s most needed, during the winter months.
Mulch & Recycled Water
There are several ways to increase a lawn’s water efficiency. The first of which is to surround any trees or flowers with mulch. Mulch traps water and keeps it from being evaporated by the sun. By reducing how often plants need fresh water, this ultimately conserves any water used. Watering plants only when needed and during the coolest part of the day also plays a role in its efficiency.
Watering during cool temperatures or first thing in the morning will decrease the sun’s chances of evaporating the water and also reduce the number of times plants needs to be watered. Other good ways to cut down on watering frequency include planting a garden in an area designed for rain runoff and cutting grass at a higher setting. Water can also be conserved by recycling it. Collecting rain water in barrels or other containers is great way to recycle water and save on monthly bills.
Ladybugs & Compost
There are also efficient and green energy ways to fertilize and groom a landscape. Lady bugs act as a natural pesticide and introducing them to a garden is a natural way to keep aphids away. Certain plants even act as natural pesticides. For example, planting marigolds is a natural fix to any beetle infestation and fast growing plants are the best way to maintain a weed population.
To help keep your lawn green and healthy, natural fertilizer can be made from previous lawn clippings. A great way to supplement this fertilizer is with kitchen compost scraps. A combination of the two ensures that a lawn is getting a variety nutrients and minerals.