When you’re putting together your fall “to do” list for home maintenance, think about something new this year: landscaping not only for beauty, but for energy efficiency. That’s right; you can strategically place landscaping so it acts as insulation, helping to lower your energy bills.
Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what and where to plant:
- In the winter, the sun hangs lower in the southern sky, and in the summer, it’s on a more northeast-to-northwest arc. You’ll want to consider that when you plant;
- Walls with eastern exposure probably won’t need landscaping to block the sun. Your home is still comfortable from nighttime cooling and the sun is not at maximum heating in the morning. However, shrubs can act as wind blocks and insulate entryways with eastern exposure (or any side, for that matter).
- Walls that have southern exposure receive heat from the sun while it’s high in the sky during the midday hours. Planting trees along here probably won’t block the sun, as they just won’t be tall enough.
- It’s the western walls where you can really make a difference. The North Carolina sun is at maximum heating during the afternoon hours, and your home has now had all day to heat up. Make note of where the sun hits between 3 and 5 p.m. and plan your landscaping to block the sun’s rays. If you have the space, plant about 25 feet away from the wall.
You can also landscape for insulation and energy efficiency in the winter months. Evergreen shrubs make an excellent windbreak against cold winds. If you plant trees along the south side of your home, make sure they are deciduous rather than evergreen so they don’t block the sun in the winter. When trees lose their leaves, they allow the sun to filter through, warming your home in the chilly winter months.