Landscaping Wisely

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Try these tips to conserve energy, using trees as nature’s thermostat

Landscaping your property well makes your home a pleasant place to live and helps you use your electricity wisely. Placing the right type of tree in the right position can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 25%.


1  

Savings under the tree

Do you ever notice how it’s always cooler when you walk into a park or an area with lots of trees and greenery? Because of the shade factor and the amount of water vapour trees release into the air, air temperatures under trees can be as much as 14°C cooler than temperatures out in the open.

2  

Taking the chill off

Blocking the wind can make a big difference to your heating costs. A well-placed windbreak of trees can reduce wind velocity by 85%. Just as you feel warmer when you’re out of the wind, so will your home.

3  

Patience rewarded

While planting a tree requires more patience than changing appliances, it will pay dividends over time. It takes about eight years for a tree to grow large enough to start saving you money, but it will do so for many years to come.

4  

A blooming good idea

Flower gardens with tall plants help retain moisture in the ground. The larger your garden, the less time and energy you spend watering and mowing your lawn.

  Front Yard

Time-of-Use Tips

  • Properly positioned shade-giving trees help lower the need for air conditioning (AC) during the sunniest parts of the day. That may allow you to operate the AC just in off-peak hours.
  • Try to schedule the use of electric gardening equipment (lawn mowers and trimmers) for off-peak times.

For larger projects, you may want to use a contractor

For a list of landscaping professionals near you, visit Landscape Ontario. Be sure to get a number of quotes and take the time to check references.

SEE ALSO: Using Your Pool Wisely

Now that you know how to get the most from landscaping, check out these tips to keep your pool running as efficiently as possible. arrow


Invest to Improve

Landscaping for energy efficiency not only pays dividends through energy savings, but also can greatly improve the comfort and value of your home. Whether you’re thinking small, and putting in a simple trellis, or building a retaining wall to plant a windbreak, Mother Nature can help you save on electricity costs.

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1. Made in the shade

  • Deciduous (leaf-shedding) trees provide shade from the summer sun to cut down on heat gain, but lose their leaves in winter to let sunlight enter your home and maximize solar warmth and light.
  • Place them to the south and the southwest to provide shade from late afternoon/evening sun. Not only will they help you save on air conditioning costs, but the right tree in the right spot also protects your home and furniture from damaging ultraviolet rays.
  • Depending on the type of soil you have, the size of your lot and where you live in Ontario, the best tree for you will vary. Ask a professional.
 

2. Give the wind a brake

  • A good windbreak includes a mixture of coniferous trees, deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs and perennial plants.
  • The right combination planted tightly together can thoroughly shield your home from cold winter gusts.
  • Even a single row of white pine can reduce the speed of wind hitting your home by 60%.
 

3. Retaining wall

A low retaining wall on the north side of your home makes an excellent addition as it elevates your windbreak. Instead of just blocking the wind, windbreaks that are tall enough work by deflecting the wind up and over your home. This creates a protective wind shadow.

 

4. Say shrubbery

  • Low-growing evergreen shrubs planted beside basement walls add a green layer of insulation to your home’s exterior.
  • Tightly placed shrubs help to keep warmth in and winter winds out.
  • Remember to plant shrubs at least 60 centimetres away from your foundation walls.
 

5. Time for a vine?

Vines can shade walls even in their first growing season. A trellis with climbing vines shades your home while letting cool breezes flow through.


Shopping Tips

Buying the right type of tree or plant requires careful planning and consideration. Take the time to make sure a particular tree will get the job done for you and will suit your property’s dimensions and soil types.

When buying a tree, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • How big will it be when it grows up? Making sure you know how tall and how wide a tree will be will help you determine how many trees you’ll need to purchase and how closely to plant them.
  • Remember not to crowd your house or overhead lines with your new tree as it can grow into a troublemaker.
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