Good green landscaping is important when you are building an energy efficient home. There are a number of things that you can do to incorporate plants into the overall design of a home that may reduce the need for insulation and reduce the flooding from rainwater runoff.
Even the correct placement of trees and shrubs can mean the difference of having a home which is cool in summer and warm in winter. The US Department of Environmental Protection says that planting trees can cut a home’s air conditioning cost and a home’s heating cost by approximately 25 per cent. That’s not bad for a tree that stands there and does nothing. Make sure that your landscaping plans take into consideration the way that plants can be used to save on both energy and water. By no means do these energy and water savings mean that your garden cannot be aesthetically pleasing.
When looking at your landscaping options you want to buy plants which require the least amount of water and little other maintenance such as fertilization.
When it comes to a lawn, you need to understand that the more lawn that you have the greater dependency you will have on water. The ultimate aim of a green home is the opposite of that; you want to conserve as much water as you possibly can. There are more options than simply going without a lawn and having a concrete slab as your front yard. For instance, you could plant many native plants as they require less water and are a plant drought tolerant species as well. If you still want to have a small lawn on your front yard, that can be accommodated for too.
Sprinklers are the biggest waste of water in a garden because the dispersed water only touches the plants rather than the soil where the roots of the plants and flowers are able to properly absorb the moisture. If your plants do require that little bit of extra water to remain healthy, you may want to consider in ground irrigation. In-ground irrigation uses less water, yields better results, and if you are concerned about wasting water you may want to place the irrigation system on a timer or on a rain meter.
As mentioned in the previous chapter grey water (used water) is a way to make use of water which is left over from other processes. Rainwater catchment systems are a way of utilizing rainwater and can be used to water your garden. It is actually really easy to make your own rainwater catchment system – all you need to do is place a rain barrel underneath the gutter spout from your home. If you want to get a bit more technical measure the size of your roof multiplied with the average yearly rainfall in the area to find out how much rainfall you can gain from the roof. Once you have calculated this figure you will be pleasantly surprised with how much water you can feed your garden without ever having to turn that tap on.
It is amazing how things have changed over the past decade or so, there was a time that having an outdoor swimming pool or spa added great value to a property – now it is just seen as a costly expense. Aside from needing hundreds of gallons of water to fill a pool, it is very expensive to heat and the chemicals required to purify the water add to this cost. As people are becoming more aware of the cost of resources they are realizing that despite being aesthetically pleasing and a fun activity, it has higher costs than people are willing to spend.
Follow these landscaping tips and combine them with the other advice in this book including framing, insulation, ventilation, electricity savings, plumbing and solar and wind energy advice about how to build a home green from the ground up. Remember that all of the projects discussed in this book you will be able to complete if you are keen and are willing to put a bit of hard work in.
Best of luck with your future projects.