December 2, 2017
An energy efficient landscape creates a flourishing outdoor environment with a small footprint. These nine tips will bring beauty and functionality to outdoor spaces without sacrificing any visual appeal or usability. An outdoor space that nurtures and sustains offers more than visual appeal. It combines the aesthetics with the responsibility we share for the well-being of our places.
Best ways to conserve water include:
- Deep soil cultivation and enrichment. Healthy soils high in organic matter retain water better than poor soils. Humus, another word for organic matter, holds onto moisture. Instead of bouncing off the soil’s surface when it rains, the water droplets will sink into the ground.
- The use of native plants. All kinds of plants native to the region have adapted to the weather and rainfall patterns locally. They’re better able to tolerate periods of drought or flooding. If you want greater variety in the landscape, look for plants whose water use ranges from medium to low.
- Minimize the turf. Nearly every variety of grass requires a good deal of water. While you don’t have to eliminate it altogether, consider using it as an accent rather than a ground cover. Mix it with areas of hard surfaces and save the turf for places good for children and pets to play. Although turf lessens the heat island effect, you can find hard surfaces that accomplish the same. Use lighter colors that will reflect the heat and avoid asphalt.
- Use as many solar-powered yard lights and regardless of the power source, choose LED bulbs. They require minimal amounts of electricity and last longer than other kinds.
- Energy efficient motors are now available for water pumps for pools and ponds.
Reusing the plant material generated in the landscape as compost takes a burden off the planet and your wallet. Set aside an area for c
ompost bins and use them for yard and kitchen waste.
Plants benefit from top dressings of compost during their growing seasons, since it’s high in nutrients and organic matter. You can add your kitchen waste, although you can’t use meat or fats. The latter will attract insects and animals, and emit a strong, offensive smell as they decompose.
Switch from Gas to Electric Equipment
When practical, switch from gas-powered yard equipment to electric. Although both use energy, electric-powered tools create zero emissions in your yard.
Poorly maintained yard equipment that uses fuel can add noxious hydrocarbons to the nearby environment. Power plants that use natural gas do have emissions, but they’re cleaner and controlled by sophisticated technology.
For the Home
Use the landscaping design to provide windbreaks and passive solar heating for your home. Develop a plan with your architect that combines deciduous plantings and placements that promote an energy efficient home year-round. Windbreaks that shelter your building stay more comfortable and don’t require as much heating or cooling.
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