It’s been a hot summer and the heat’s still on. Everyone I know is trying to find ways to stay cool, but running the AC all day means higher energy costs. One solution is to plant more trees, shrubs and vines to help with cooling.
Planting for beauty is one thing, but the shade that trees produce is more valuable than you think. Some experts estimate by strategically planting just three shade trees, you can save up to $250 a year in energy costs.
In addition to planting shade trees, there are other ways plants can help reduce energy costs. Here are some ideas for putting plants to work for you:
Plant shade trees on the south side of the house to provide the most shade in summer and warmth from the sun in winter.
Use dense evergreens, planted on the north and northwest sides of the house or other structures as windbreaks to also help reduce cooling costs.
Landscape so trees, vines and shrubs shade driveways, courtyards, and large windows.
Allow at least one foot between the house and the plants to add an extra layer of insulation.
Plant climbing vines on trellises for shade and to reduce reflected sunlight from buildings, walls and fences.
Add an arbor near the patio for a climbing rose that will offer shade and attract beneficial insects.
Plant drought-tolerant groundcovers as a living mulch or use them to reduce the amount of turfgrass to water.
Keep the lawn healthy by irrigating deeply, but less frequently. Follow the watering rules for your community and water the lawn only when allowed.
Test to see if the lawn needs watering by walking across the grass first. If the grass springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water.
Top dress the lawn with a thin layer of compost to encourage healthy roots by feeding beneficial microorganisms and slowing water runoff.
Layer mulch around trees and plants to help maintain soil moisture and slow evaporation.
Use a mulching mower and leave grass clippings on the lawn to add nutrients back into the soil.