By Karen Weir-Jimerson, Costa Farms Garden Guru
Photograph courtesy of Costa Farms
Do you want to save money? Who doesn't! One unexpected cash-saving strategy is the way you landscape your yard. For example, trees can save money on cooling costs because strategically placed trees shade your house in the hottest part of the day. And attractive, well-designed landscaping can increase your property value, providing up to 125 percent of your return on investment. Read our tips on saving money by landscaping.
Conserve Water (and Cash)
Creating a water-wise landscape will save on watering costs. But it's also a way to make your landscape more easy-care. Start by selecting low-water and drought-tolerant plants. There are plenty of low-water and drought-tolerant options available for every USDA zone. From cacti and succulents to lush flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs, there are a wide variety of drought-tolerant plants at your local garden center or online.
Creating a yard that you don't have to water is more than just picking the right plants. You can also reduce areas of water-thirsty lawn and replace them with easy-care, low-water groundcovers. Many groundcovers stay lush and green, even during droughts, so you'll spend less money watering to keep your yard looking lush. Here's something else to consider: Some studies show that not watering your lawn can reduce water use by more than 200,000 gallons per year (depending on the size of your yard, your climate, and other factors). And reducing your lawn area (or replacing it with groundcovers entirely) will mean less mowing chores, too. Get xeriscaping tips.
Save in Summer
Smart landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs as much as 50 percent. The United States Energy Department reports that the air temperature directly beneath a tree can be 20F (6C) cooler than over a sunny driveway. That cooling concept can be applied to your house. Planting a shade tree on the south side of your home, for example, can help shade the roof, reducing its temperature—and the temperature inside your home. Planting a tree or two on the west side of your home will cast shade on western walls, helping to keep them cooler during the hottest afternoon hours. If you don't have room for a tree, try a hedge or a lattice wall covered with vines.
Even if they're not casting shade on your home, trees can help save you money. Shaded areas are cooler than sunny areas. So filtering the sun on paved areas, such as driveways and sidewalks, will lower the overall temperature of your yard. In cold-winter climates, deciduous trees that lose their leaves will allow the sun to warm your home and help reduce winter heating bills.
Reduce Winter Heating Costs
Smart planting saves money in winter when you live in a cold climate. Windbreaks reduce the effect of winds on the north and east side of your home. Some studies show that strategically placed evergreen windbreaks can reduce winter heating bills by 40 percent. Maximize the benefits of a windbreak by planting evergreens near your home about two to five times the plant's mature height. For example, if you plant a shrub that reaches 10 feet tall, plant it 20 to 50 feet from your home.
Planting shrubs or hedges around the perimeter foundation of your home also saves energy costs. When adding shrubs, allow a 1-foot-wide gap between the plants and your home. This space can have some insulative effect, so your home loses less heat in winter (and less cool air to the hot outdoors) in summer.
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