Well-designed landscaping can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce your heating and cooling bills.
The right landscaping plan depends on your climate and your home’s microclimate—the area immediately surrounding your home. For low-maintenance, healthy, energy-saving landscaping, use plant species that are adapted to the local climate.
Also consider ways to save water when planning and maintaining your landscape.
Shading can reduce heat gain from the sun and cut air conditioning costs. Deciduous trees with high, spreading crowns planted on the south side of your home will shade your roof in the summer and allow warmth from the sun to reach your home in the winter.
Trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants can shade the ground and pavement around the home, cooling the air before it reaches your home’s walls and windows. Shrubs and trellised vines can also shade walls and windows.
Windbreaks reduce heating costs by lowering the wind chill near your home. Plant your windbreak at a distance from your home of two to ve times the mature height of the trees. Choose trees and shrubs that have low crowns to block wind close to the ground. Dense evergreen trees and shrubs planted to the north and northwest of the home are the most common type of windbreak. Avoid planting evergreens too close to your home’s south side if you want to collect heat from the winter sun.
When choosing plants, determine how much water they actually need. Considering water needs will help you choose plants that need less water and help you avoid overwatering. Plants that are native to the area will usually need less water. Water plants in the early morning when evaporation rates are low.
Consider xeriscaping, which is a systematic method of planning your landscaping to conserve water. Visit EnergySaver.gov for more information about xeriscaping.