LET’S TALK GARDENING – Conserving Energy With Landscaping


Earlier this month I did my Thursday NBC12 gardening segment on the topic of conserving energy with landscaping. I got some good reactions from viewers who called wanting to learn more and asking if I had any handout information (which we do). Bottom line—Eco-scaping can help the planet as well as save us money.

Now that fall is officially here, this is a great time of year to be doing some planting. Our air temperature is cooling down. Our soil temperature is cooling as well. Both these changes support planting this time of year to be the best. The main reason for now being a great planting time of year is because roots grow better and develop quicker in cooler soil temperatures and our soil will not dry as quickly.

Well-placed plantings can significantly temper the microclimate around a home, resulting in a more comfortable environment and big savings in heating and cooling costs over time. Planting deciduous trees on the southeast and southwest corners of the house will help cut heating and air conditioning costs. Trees and shrubs affect solar radiation more than structural devices, such as awnings. Deciduous plants drop their leaves for the winter in the late fall and have the advantage of allowing the sun to reach our home in the winter for warmth, yet providing shade during the summer. Air conditioners run much less in a house shaded by trees than they do in a house with a sun-baked roof and walls. Then in the winter, the sun is allowed to warm the roof and walls of the house, helping to reduce heating costs.

Another element of being eco-friendly with your landscaping is concerning our water. The availability of clean water is one of the major issues affecting our quality of life. Making the right choices on plants and their locations is a very important step in landscaping with water conservation in mind. Selecting the right plants for your soil type and your sun or shade conditions means plants will be healthier and may not require as much irrigation.

The third consideration with eco-landscaping is planting windbreaks for winter savings. Choose evergreens for the north and northwest sides of the house, where they will block winter winds. In a windy site, a windbreak planting can account for up to 50% wind reduction with a 20 to 40% reduction in heating fuel consumption. Evergreen conifers, such as Arborvitaes, are a perfect barrier to winter winds. Tall Schip laurels can do the same. It is all about the right plant for the right location!

The fourth consideration with eco-landscaping is about our lawns. Reducing lawn size can also save energy. Expanding your garden beds = less lawn = less mowing being required.

Another consideration with eco-landscaping involves our lawns as well. A light covering of fallen leaves can be mowed with a mower, leaving the shredded leaves in place on the lawn. As the leaves decompose they will improve the soil, adding large amounts of valuable elements such as calcium and potassium to our soil. At the same time, the layer of leaves forms water-absorbing humus.  Don’t discard leaves with the trash. Yard wastes are filling up our landfills, and you are throwing away a valuable recyclable resource. Composted leaves make a great mulch around shrubs and trees which will help in conserving soil moisture, adding organic matter to the soil, controlling weeds, and moderating the soil temperature.

In a nutshell—with this FALL IS FOR PLANTING season, keep some of these points in mind when doing some planting this fall. We all need to do better to improve our environment. Don’t think that your landscape is too small to make any significant impact on our environment.

PLANT A LITTLE HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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2 thoughts on “LET’S TALK GARDENING – Conserving Energy With Landscaping”

  1. Love this article – been working to create backyard park – small yard but yes, trees and shrubs near fence create natural A/C in summer and help birds, etc. The center of the yard is natural also – with plants provided by birds, etc. and nurseries. The finishing of this project will eventually involve a center courtyard with something in its center. The project is on-going for this newly retired owner.

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