Save $: Give those plants a job!

On-site climate conditioning via utilization of landscape vegetative material
Save $: Give those plants a job!

We’ll start with some figures:

• A well planned landscape can reduce an air-conditioning bill from around 15% all the way up to 50% and cut fuel costs by up to 40%!
• Shading the air-conditioner can increase its efficiency by 10%.
• Trees can reduce the surrounding air temperature by up to 9% while the ground can get up to 25% cooler than near the blacktop!

These few facts alone can be inspiration for any property owner these days given what it costs to cool and heat a home. A number of considerations have to be looked at in order to best utilize plant material. This underscores, once again, how important a well thought-out plan can be when taking on projects in a yard.

The size, shape, kind, and placement of plants are key details that need to be addressed, along with what function is trying to be achieved.

Deciduous trees and shrubs (the ones that leaf out in the spring and fall off in the autumn) will let wind in but reduce solar radiation in the summer and let it infiltrate in the winter. Conifers (evergreens) not only cool the ground, but also act as wind breaks, stopping snow and the cold winter winds. Depending on the size, both conifers and deciduous trees can shade heat-sinks like driveways in the summer time.

Contrary to popular belief, placing trees on the south side of a house is not the best spot when considering shade. Typically the shade will fall directly under the tree in the summer and do little, while casting a long shadow in the winter letting little solar radiation to reach. Make the first priority for placement of a tree or large shrub due west of any west windows, with the second priority placement due east of east facing windows. Plant these trees about twice their mature height from the wall.

Consider that a 6’-8’ deciduous tree planted near the home will begin shading the window the first year. Depending upon what kind, it will eventually shade the roof in 5-10 years.

If you are going to plant wind-break trees, place them a distance two to five times their height at maturity from the house. Don’t block the sun on the south!

It is also advisable to put foundation plants like shrubs and perennials near the house about 1’ away to create a dead space to insulate the home in both the winter and summer seasons.

Vines on a trellis or on the side of a house are another option to consider. Just be mindful that there may be some additional labor associated with these.

It’s never too late to get started! The next time you are strolling through your yard, focus on if there are things you can do to improve the heating and cooling efficiency of your home from a landscape stand point. Barrett Lawn Care has a trained and professional staff which can guide you in the right direction. Whether it be a design plan or a full installation, you don’t have to be alone to get it right!

By Chad Bischoff, Landscape Designer at Barrett Lawn Care

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