Landscaping and Cooling Your Home 101

As a new home owner there are many items on your “to do” list. You want your new purchase to feel more like a home and to feel settled in your abode. One of the first projects many new home owners consider is updating the landscaping.

Perhaps one of the reasons you purchased the house was because of its drive-up appeal; lots of trees, beautiful shrubs and colorful flowers, but the foliage may not be within your taste, nor the landscaping energy-efficient friendly.

What do we mean by energy-efficient landscaping?

For one, the way a yard is landscaped can not only improve the look of your home, but also make it energy-efficient with a few minor adjustments.

Trees make an excellent source of shade, keeping a house cool in the summertime and therefore cutting energy costs. But the placement of such trees and scrubs is essential to reap some kind of energy savings. Trees, hedges, vines and trellis-pergola can all be used throughout landscaping regardless of how large or small the property may be, and placed effectively to help keep energy costs down, while also beautifying your home’s drive-up appeal.

Deciduous Trees

There is a two-fold purpose when considering the placement of deciduous trees. One, the tree can shade the house to keep it cool, and two, it can also be a windbreaker during the winter, keeping heat from escaping. An Evergreen is an example of this and an excellent source to combat both issues. Placed near windows, they help to shade the sun during the summer months and block harsh winds in the winter months.

Do you have bay-type windows from ceiling to floor? You may love them and have no desire to replace them; however, they face the west side of your home. Lots of sunshine beams through the bay windows spreading light throughout, but unfortunately they are placed in the west, which creates a rather stifling room temperament during the summer months. A tree with full leafs; such as a Bradford Pear, a deciduous tree, can be a benefit for all seasons. This type of tree drops its leafs in the fall, so what served as a shade tree in the summer, now allows beams of sunlight to shine through the bay windows to warm the house during the winter. Bradford Pears are also fast-growing trees and normally mature in approximately three years.

A trellis filled with ivy scaling up the side of a brick chimney works similarly. Leafs are full during the summer, cooling the brick of the chimney, thus keeping the inside room to the fireplace cool. Bushes around the house, placed where the sunshine hits at the peak of each day, will also help to protect from foundation issues in the future. During the hot days of summer, a cement slab foundation needs to be watered to keep from cracking or buckling. Bushes and scrubs help to shade the foundation and with watering the plants it works two-fold by also keeping the foundation from becoming too dry and prone to cracking.

Certain plants can also work as a protection for the home. Perhaps you have a couple of windows that are set low and placed in a less traveled area of your home or may be more secluded, which can lead to easy access for predators. Prickly type plants such as Cactus or Acacia are a huge deterrent.

A new house is one of the biggest investments one can make. Keeping it safe and energy-efficient can be as easy as using a few key landscaping elements that will make your house feel more like “your” home.