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Is Your Garden Energy Efficient? by Paula Brett

April 10, 2010
This is a Japanese garden which is located in ...
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With the daily buzz surrounding both global weather problems and the need for cheaper and better energy to heat and cool our homes, simple landscaping solutions can make your life easier.

Trying to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer have been primary concerns and, in many cases, budget disasters, for average families everywhere. Several natural disasters throughout the world have forced everyone to deal with higher energy costs – every day, natural gas and oil prices seem to spiral upward and there doesn`t seem to be any relief in sight.

When beauty meets function, your landscaping can conserve energy in your home while providing wonderful views for your enjoyment. By effectively arranging your landscape to meet specific energy needs, you could save up to 30 per cent on the cost of your heating bills. Conversely, in the summer time, who wants a hot stuffy house with a fan constantly whirring away or, worse still, an even more `expensive to run` air conditioning system?

Using landscaping to conserve energy involves three separate but related considerations

1. The wind`s movement has to be focused in order to manage the effects of it blowing through your house

2. The sun`s heat needs to be redirected effectively throughout your property

3. Your inside temperature, whether warm or cool, needs to be maintained

Believe it or not, you do not have to become Mother Nature to accomplish this result. Simple changes and additions to your garden can accomplish miracles by reducing your energy costs dramatically and, of course, the `knock on` effect on our environment.

Redirecting The Wind

One of the primary contributors to lowering home temperatures is the wind that blows at your house. Even if you have all your windows tightly closed, the frigid winter wind cools your walls and foundations and reduces your inside temperature.

This winter wind often carries a much colder blast than the actual static outside temperatures. Your heating bills will reflect this `wind driven` assault.

You can ease some of this money drain by planting effective windbreaks that  include evergreens or other trees native to your location. In fact, even fences placed in strategic locations can serve as windbreaks and can be decorative year round.

Keeping the Heat In

Shrubs and bushes that are planted close to the foundations and walls of the house create what is called a `dead air barrier`. This buffer along the foundation of the house helps the warm or cold air inside your house to avoid the natural, equalizing energy transfer that wastes your money.

Redirecting the Sunlight

The summer sun is one of the main culprits of increasing heat inside your home. When the sun`s rays hit your home directly, 90 per cent of this heat goes into heating up your walls and foundations. This directly increases the burden on your fans or air-conditioning system.  In order to block the sun during the peak times, you need to locate trees in your garden either west or south of your house.

One of the key considerations in landscaping includes the various weather conditions that prevail in the area. This means taking into consideration where the sun shines and what path the sunlight takes. Pay attention to the sun`s path over your house during the summer and the winter. Go outside frequently and take notes so you can make educated decisions when you start planting.

By putting specific trees near to your house, you are effectively reducing temperatures inside the home in the summer. Huge shade trees in particular can reduce temperatures up to 10 degrees F. In the winter, dense, deciduous trees that shed foliage allow for sunlight to pass through the branches, providing some warmth to your walls, foundations and inside your home.

Now that you understand the three modifications you need to apply to your garden to naturally control your home`s temperature, let`s discuss how to do that.

Making Your Garden Energy Efficient

A pretty landscape can only go so far. As mentioned above, efficient landscaping that takes into consideration energy needs, may well save a family more then 30 per cent of their usual heat or cooling costs, either in the winter or summer.

So how do you make an energy efficient garden? There are various things that can be considered in both existing and `soon to be developed` landscapes.

One of the primary culprits in the wasting of energy is the warm or cool inside air that escapes through the home`s roof, windows and doors. In order to keep your heated or cool air inside the home, the obvious answer is to add some insulation to block this escape. Adding insulation, though, will not be the total answer.

You need outside protection all year. The best way to achieve this protection is by planting shrubbery around the home`s foundations. As mentioned above, this creates a `dead air barrier`, keeping the heat and cool inside the home where it matters. Experts suggest that not planting the shrubbery too close to the house`s foundation helps to give an increased area for the `dead air barrier`. How about that for natural insulation?

Landscaping is a `win win` situation. Beautifying your surroundings and reducing your heating and cooling costs will benefit everyone.

The author has been a Landscape Gardener for 15 years and runs the busy and successful landscape gardening business Absolute Landscapes You can read more gardening tips at

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