Part of the fun of owning a new home is creating the outdoor spaces that surround your new home. Carefully designing your new landscape not only adds beauty and cozy space to your home, but can also help reduce energy costs. Wise landscaping decisions can pay for themselves in energy savings over eight years.
Before you head to the plant nursery for your new home landscaping projects, consider these tips for creating a beautiful, energy-efficient garden.
Before choosing plants or designing your landscape, first know your climate region. What works and looks beautiful in cold regions may not be as effective in a hot or humid climate. The US Department of Energy has divided the lower 48 states into four broad climatic regions: temperate, hot-arid, hot-humid, and cool. Their website has a helpful map and overviews of the regions.
Regardless of your climate, shade is an important ally in lowering your home’s heating and cooling bills. Shade from trees can cool the surrounding air temperature by up to 6°F, according to the Department of Energy.
You’ll want to strategically plant trees that maximize summer shade, especially on the south- and west-facing windows, walls, and roofs. Deciduous trees are a good choice in cooler climates, say experts at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanical Garden.
“Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer, then drop their leaves in the fall, allowing the sun’s heat to filter through their barren branches and help warm the house when the weather is cold,” they note. “Maples and other tall species with broad leaves and a tall, spreading crown are ideal for this purpose.”
Windbreaks protect your new home from strong winter winds and can save you considerable heating costs in the process. They also serve as a barrier, preventing snowbanks from building up next to your home.
First, you’ll want to decide where on your property a windbreak is most needed and how high up you want it. So get creative! Windbreaks are no longer relegated to a single row of shrubs or trees of a single species.
Drip irrigation, soaker hoses, and rainwater harvesting systems are energy-efficient alternatives to quench your plants’ thirst. Drip irrigation systems, says the ASLA, “use 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional pop-up sprinkler systems and can save up to 30,000 gallons per year.” Regardless of your approach, use a timer to ensure your plants’ roots get a deep soak without wasting water.