Landscaping Your Property for Energy Efficiency
Good landscaping design adds beauty to your property and enhances curb appeal. While these are great benefits, did you know that properly placed trees and plants can also reduce heating and cooling costs and make your building more comfortable?
The shady side
Solar heat gain through windows and the roof reduces comfort on hot summer days and increases cooling costs. Leafy trees planted on the south, east and west sides of your building provides cooling shade in summer. In the autumn, the leaves fall, letting through warming sunshine all winter long.
Tree species are available in a variety of sizes and shapes for almost any shade application. Trees with high, spreading crowns (leaves and branches) on the south side provide maximum roof shading. Trees with lower crowns are more appropriate to the west, where shade from the lower afternoon sun is needed. Depending on the species and the building, a tree can provide a substantial amount of shade within five to 10 years of planting.
Shrubs and ground cover help shade the ground and pavement around the building. This reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches the walls and windows.
Breaking the wind
Properly selected, placed and maintained landscaping provides good wind protection for multifamily buildings, reducing winter heating costs. A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill around the building.
Dense evergreen trees planted on the north and northwest sides are the most common types of windbreaks. Trees can be planted with bushes and shrubs to block wind from the ground level to the treetops. Location is important in providing an effective windbreak. Plant trees at a distance of two to five times their mature height.
Native plants are those that have adapted over time to the local climate. They provide a naturally hardy, drought-resistant and low-maintenance landscape. Landscaping with native plants offers benefits like:
- Less watering. Native plants are accustomed to rainfall, humidity and weather of the region.
- No fertilizer. Again, these native plants are naturally capable of thriving in the local environment.
- No pesticides. Native plants attract native insects, helping to help keep away other insects posing a threat.
Work with local experts to determine which trees, shrubs and native plants will work best for your landscaping needs.
When planning your project, keep safety in mind. Call 811 to have all underground utility lines located and marked. It will help you avoid injury, service interruptions and costly repairs.