Who doesn’t want a beautiful home with a gorgeous garden and foliage worthy of appearing on the cover of Home & Garden magazine? Although a beautiful landscape can appear as expensive as it is broad, that’s not always the case.
Great landscaping is an art form, but it’s not necessarily as expensive as you might think. Plenty of homeowners have added amazing landscape architecture to their home on a surprisingly limited budget.
In fact, certain landscaping decisions will actually save you money by harnessing the power of nature to heat and cool your home. Below are four sustainable landscaping ideas you can use to make your property beautiful, and save money on your energy bills year round:
1. Keep some of the existing plants on the property
When you’re trying to create a specific look or theme for your land, it’s tempting to rip out all the trees and plants and start from scratch, but this can sometimes do more harm than good. Natural processes and ecosystems may get disrupted when you remove certain plants, and create long-term havoc.
Do enough research first to find out which plants you have on your property, and how they might work together. Then remove only the invasive, non-native plants.
2. Plant the right types of trees
Planting specific varieties of trees on your property can help keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter, which will reduce your energy costs. Deciduous trees, such as Forest Pansies and Japanese Maples, are perfect for summer.
They grow massive bunches of leaves which provide some great shade in the summer heat. In the winter, these trees shed their leaves and enable the winter sun to warm up the general space through their bare branches.
Filter the sun through the right tree branches
When trees drop their leaves in winter, you can clearly see the structure of their branches. This structure is important to note before you choose new trees because when you want as much sun as possible.
You need to choose trees that have wide-open branches to let the sun shine through. The more intricate a tree’s twig patterns, the less sunlight that’s going to come through the branches.
Compare the size of your house to that of the trees
When choosing trees to plant, make sure you factor in the size of your house. You may need a taller tree than your neighbor down the street, especially if you have a two- or three-story home. And the tree, in turn, needs to be big enough to cast a sufficient shadow.
It’s all about the shadow
Because the sun is going to be in a different position in the sky at various times of the year, the shadow cast by each tree is going to change and move. You’ll need to make sure you select a tree that has the ability to cast a significant shadow during the hottest hours in the day.
You’ll also want to be aware of where you plant a tree to take full advantage of its shadow. You’ll also want to make sure you plant your trees far enough apart from one another and your house, to avoid damage from growing roots.
Don’t just plant one tree
Planting a single tree to shade your home may be the easy and quick way to tackle the summer heat, but it’s not the most effective solution. You need a network of trees and shrubbery to make your yard look beautiful.
It’s a good idea to supplement your shade tree with other native trees and plants to create a beautiful landscape. It may seem strange, but trees thrive in groups.
They can also have complex communication systems and share nutrients with one another through fungi connected to their roots. So if you’re going to use trees to shade your home, plant at least a few and give them some company.
Harvest rainwater to save even more money
Collecting rainwater is a great way to save money after you’ve planted trees and other plants. If you happen to live in an area where rain is plentiful, it should be easy for you to collect rainwater to water your garden and plants.
Even if you don’t have a lot of rainfall, it’s still worth trying to collect, even if it takes longer. It doesn’t require a lot of effort to build a rainwater harvesting system.
Even if you have a well, you can still harvest rainwater to water your plants because you won’t need to consume electricity to use it.
3. Use permeable paving
Permeable paving is paving with materials that can be permeated by water, such as certain recycled materials, crushed stone, and even some forms of concrete. Who knew concrete could be so green?
Permeable paving is a great option because the materials are affordable, and it can prevent storm water runoff by cutting the flow into drains and sewers. It also filters out pollutants when it returns the water to the groundwater supply.
If you’re going to repave, or you’re paving for the first time, be sure to select permeable materials. You can save money while you help filter pollutants from liquids that are headed back into the ground water.
4. Turn your lawn into a garden
Lawns may look nice when they’re well maintained, but they aren’t environmentally friendly by any means. The EPA has estimated that the average lawn requires 10,000 gallons of water each year.
Not only does a lawn require excessive amounts of water to stay green, but it also consumes energy, usually gas, to cut it with a lawnmower. On top of the high maintenance and wasted energy, lawns produce a lot of yard waste that has to be processed.
You could simply dump your yard clippings into the special trashcan that gets picked up once a week, but it doesn’t just disappear without a trace. Fuel gets burned to pick up the clippings, to deliver it, and even more to process it.
You can transform your lawn into a garden and it will support you (and the environment) for years to come. If you do that, you’ll never have to pay your kids or neighbor to mow it for you again. You’ll save money on your grocery bills and have fresh organic produce right at your fingertips.
Orient your garden to maximize sun exposure
When you build a garden, it’s tempting to place it where you think it would look the best. But there’s an important factor to consider before you get started.
That factor is the sun. Your garden depends on the sunshine for growth, and if you build it in a less than optimal area for sunlight, you’ll be the only one soaking up the rays.
Proactive Landscaping can help
Whether you’re looking to add a little natural shade to your home or rework the grounds to provide more fresh food for your table, Proactive Landscaping can help you design and install your next landscaping.
Contact us today for a free estimate and receive a free no-obligation consultation!