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Using Landscaping to Save Energy (And Money)

Outdoor landscaping labor can reap financial dividends in addition to the aesthetic and culinary benefits.  People have been incorporating strategic landscaping into their habitats since... well, since there were people, most likely. But in today's age of cheap energy, mobile populations and rapid development, it's easy to forget some of the basics principles of landscape design that have helped keep us comfortable for millenia.

A few things to keep in mind when you're reconfiguring your outdoor areas this summer:

Deciduous trees for shade:

Shading your home with deciduous trees is one of the best ways to keep a home comfortable in a climate with hot summers and chilly winters. In the summer, trees prevent sunlight from reaching your home, keeping your home cool. Perfect.

Evergreen trees as windblocks:

Thicker evergreen trees are a great way to block wind from whipping across your house and cooling it down in the winter. Consider planting evergreen trees on the north side of your home, where they will protect your home from the wind, but won't block the precious sunlight (which reduces the amount of energy your home needs to consume to stay comfortable) coming from the south.

Bushes near windows for shade & windblocking:

Bushes around your home provide much the same benefit as trees, as they absorb the sunlight that would otherwise reach your home, heating it up. 

All told, keeping your home's comfort and energy efficiency in mind when landscaping around your home can reap benefits that extend beyond the aesthetic. While numbers will, of course, vary from home to home, there's a good chance that just a few trees or shrubs especially on the West, East, and South could save you a considerable amount of money in the short and long term.