Spring is a time to ponder what to do with that garden you’ve been thinking about all winter. While it might seem as if saving energy is something you can only do inside your home, savvy gardeners know that energy efficient garden design can help them enjoy the fruits of their labor and energy savings at the same time. Knowing the best places to plant trees for shade landscaping, for instance, can help keep your home cooler in the warmer months, and warmer in the cooler months. Energy.gov offers additional suggestions on how to take advantage of shade and wind shields to best protect your home and maximize energy use inside for each climate region.
One of the first things you need to understand to create an energy efficient garden is your climate— more specifically, your microclimate. The United States has roughly four climate regions: temperate, hot-arid, hot-humid and cool.
The microclimate, or the climate immediately surrounding your home, is particularly important for the optimal energy efficient garden design. Your home’s microclimate might receive more sun, shade, wind, rain, snow, moisture, and/or dryness than average local conditions. You might live in a cool region, but if your home is on a sunny southern slope, it could have a warmer microclimate than what is typical in your area. A home with a lot of well-placed shade trees, meanwhile, might have a cooler microclimate even though it’s in a hot-humid region. Nearby bodies of water could increase your area’s humidity or decrease its air temperature as well. Microclimatic factors also help determine what plants may or may not grow in your particular landscape.
Here are some other spring landscaping tips for how to save energy gardening in your yard.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you have an energy efficient garden is to make sure to use drought-resistant plants whenever possible. Not only does this ensure you don’t end up with droopy, dying plants if an actual drought occurs, but drought-resistant plants generally require less water than other plants. In other words, you will need less water to keep them happy.
Which drought-resistant plants work best depends on your climate and microclimate. There are places to find plants that might work best for your energy efficient garden design — for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency has a website to help you find the best drought-resistant plants for your area. Simply find your state and click.
Here are a few other watering tips as you plan your energy efficient garden:
Using the best mulch for landscaping is another critical part to creating the best energy efficient garden design. Mulching flowerbeds blocks the sun’s rays, which in turn keeps the ground temperature lower and prevents evaporation. Mulch also slows weed growth, improves soil quality and makes your gardens look more attractive.
Knowing what mulch to use, though, is critical to achieving your gardening goals. The Family Handyman offers these suggestions for the best mulch for landscaping:
You might wish to visit your local garden shop or greenhouse to inquire about the best mulch to hold water based on your local climate. Garden professionals will likely have insights to share about what might be most effective in your specific case.
Lawns are, in many ways, part of the American dream. You get a house; you (usually) have a lawn even if it’s miniscule. With that lawn comes certain neighborhood expectations. No one wants to be the neighbor everyone is talking about because their lawn is overgrown.
That said, more homeowners are considering how to handle their particular yard. Some municipalities and government agencies have weighed in too. In 2015, for instance, the California Water Commission limited the amount of allowed lawn on new construction to 25 percent of the total lot. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 30 percent of the 320 gallons of water a family uses as a daily average is devoted to outdoor use. About half of that outdoor use is watering lawns and gardens. Given that expense, it’s not surprising that homeowners are increasingly considering other options for traditional lawns, everything from gravel to artificial turf.
Not sure how you want to handle the yard you have? Here are some pros and cons of having a lawn:
Pros of having a lawn:
Cons of having a lawn:
Assuming you’ve decided a lawn is a desired part of your landscaping design, you can still save time and energy by making some decisions regarding how often you mow your lawn.
Answering that question depends on a number of factors. Lawn Care for Dummies notes these contributing factors when deciding your mowing schedule:
Some homeowners decide to make the size of their lawn smaller, or just toss in a bunch of wildflower seeds and let Mother Nature take charge if they feel like they’re needing to mow too frequently.
There you have it — all the tips you need to have an energy efficient garden. Now, start (green) thumbing through the gardening catalogues and get ready to plant!
Whatever your energy needs, we've got a plan for you
The unplugging-appliances-to-save-energy myth is actually not a myth at all. If you’re wondering whether unplugging appliances saves electricity, here are some answers.