For the summer months we are continuing our articles regarding landscaping with energy efficiency in mind. As I prepare this article, here in the last weeks of June, our afternoon temperatures are already in the mid to high nineties with a daily heat index in the 100’s. We still have at least three months of these temperatures ahead of us. So now is the time to consider some options for making your home’s exterior environment cooler and more livable. As we discussed last month this can also help to cut the costs for cooling your home’s interior.
For June we featured a beautiful shade tree that also provided some exceptional fall color when cooler weather begins. The Florida Flame Red Maple is still available in 30 gallon (12 to14 ft.) and 100 gallon (18 to 20 ft.) sizes.
One of the largest heat gain factors inside your home is direct sunlight through un-shaded windows. A 6-foot to 8-foot deciduous tree planted near your home will begin shading windows the first year. Depending on the species and the home, the tree will shade the roof in 5–10 years. Shading your air conditioning unit can increase its efficiency by as much as 10%.
Trees are not the only solution to making your home environment more beautiful and energy efficient. Shrubs and groundcover plants can also shade the ground and pavement around the home. This reduces heat radiation and cools the air as it reaches your home’s walls and windows. Use a large bush or row of shrubs to shade a patio or driveway. Plant a hedge to shade a sidewalk. Build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area. Vines can also shade walls during their first growing season. A lattice or trellis with climbing vines, or a planter box with trailing vines, shades the home’s perimeter while admitting cooling breezes to the shaded area.
Shrubs planted close to the house will fill in rapidly and begin shading walls and windows within a few years. You should always plant far enough back from the wall to make sure shrubs are not touching the wall and to allow for maintenance. This also provides a channel for wind to move between the house and the plants. Through a process called evapotranspiration, plants actively move and release water vapor. As this happens and the wind circulates between the plants and the walls of the house it creates a natural cooling environment.
However, avoid allowing dense foliage to grow immediately next to a home where wetness or continual humidity is a problem.. Well-landscaped homes in wet areas allow winds to flow around the home, keeping the home and its surrounding soil reasonably dry.
On average, landscaping for energy efficiency provides enough energy savings to return your investment in 8 years or less. And, if designed well, on top of this you will get many more years of enjoyment from a landscape environment that is not only pleasing to the eye, but that you and your family will spend a lot more time in, year round.
With over 28 years of combined experience in our Planning and Design Department we have what it takes to design such an environment for you and your family. We will take the time to find out what activities you enjoy and where you want to spend your outside time. From that we will design ways to make your expectations a reality.
Just CLICK on the REQUEST A BID tab, give us some basic contact information and we will be glad to make an appointment to meet with you. Or, give us a call at 407-595-5818.