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Properly planning your landscape will help you put together a good-looking garden, that’s for sure. You can also use proper planning to develop a useful landscape that produces energy savings during both the summer and the winter. This may be a bit of an investment, but we’re not talking about projects that will save you pennies here and there. The reduction in energy could easily be in the hundreds throughout the year – plenty enough to fund future lawn and garden upgrades.
The best use of landscaping to save energy is to use plants as wind protection. Studies have shown that, with no other features in the way, that a properly located windbreak can produce up to 25% energy savings. You’ll need to use plants as baffles to break up the wind and reduce the pressure of the wind on your house. This wind pressure can force the cold air in and the warm air out.
The best way to break up the wind is to plant evergreen trees and/or thick hedges on the edges of your property. These are dense trees that will reduce the speed and penetration of the wind. For a proper windbreak, you need to consider the height of the bushes or trees you are using, and plant them accordingly in relation to your house. For every foot tall a plant is, you’ll want to plant it 1 to 3 feet from the house for a proper windbreak. This means taller plants will still be useful for conserving energy even when place further away – a 15-foot high evergreen tree will provide for a good windbreak at 35-45 feet away from your house.
The conduction of heat between the interior and the outdoors can certainly raise your heating bills in the winter and your air conditioning bills in the summer. The best way to reduce the conduction of heat is to increase the insulation on the outside of your house. You can save energy by covering your walls in crawlers, such as ivy, that will add an extra layer of insulation.
Using the right shade trees can help you to moderate the amount of light and solar heat your house can get during the summer and the winter. In the northern hemisphere, the sun comes from the south, so you’ll want to plant your shade trees to the south of your house, as well as to the east and west because of how the sun rises and sets. Consider their height, and trim their bottom branches away. A short tree, or a tree with plenty of low-hanging branches, will reduce the sun your house gets in the winter, and reduce the potential of solar heating. A tall, full tree with the bottom branches trimmed will provide shade in the summer, and allow the low-angle sun to push through in the winter.
So in your off-season planning, consider what you can do to bring your energy bills down in the future. Make sure to observe your property before proceeding with your plan – while we have provided some tips, every property will have nuances. Track your wind and sun patterns to properly develop a layout first. It will require a little bit of effort and an investment in new flora, but it will be worth it.