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Your Landscape Plants Can Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs

Landscaping Helps Cut Heating Costs

In the past week there has been an increasing interest in landscape design for energy conservation. Rising fuel costs can be offset by landscaping. The primary goal is to control wind and sun. In Pa. the first line of defense for energy savings is protection from the cold winter winds by the use of landscaping. Research shows that properly designed screens and buffers can reduce the heating cost of a typical residence by as much as 30 per cent.

It is possible that a correctly installed screen of conifers could reduce heat loss by 20-30%. There have been studies that show that wind speeds around homes can be reduced by as much as 90%.

The best design for windbreaks depends on the use and exact location of the site. However, in most of Pa. the prevailing winds are from the northeast, thus, the maximum protection should be concentrated in the north east. A single row of conifers with staggered spacings is the best for protection from both wind and blowing snow. The wind is deflected up and over the screen, creating a well protected zone. The area of maximum protection can extend outward several times the height of the trees. If space is at a premium, fewer plants will be help full, but the use of conifers and other densely branched species is essential for maximum winter protection. Arborvitae make an excellent choice for providing winter protection. Arborvitae are commonly used evergreens useful in urban areas where low maintenance and durability is needed. Many cultivars with forms such as being globed in shape, columnar, or narrow pyramidal, tend to be near buildings, doors, and walkways. Other forms which are larger are used for screens and buffers that are planted in rows.

The form of arborvitae is small, medium, or large depending on the cultivar. Some reach 50', others only 3'. Most prefer full sun to partial sun. Planting in dense shade conditions should be avoided. A moist , well drained, loamy soil in full sunlight are ideal conditions for growing healthy arborvitae. These plants will tolerate rocky, clay, urban conditions of heat drought and pollution. The most important pest we have is bagworms which must be controlled to prevent complete defoliation. Some cultivars have multiple leaders which also prove to be a detraction for the plant. Pruning out multiple leaders in some cultivars is a simple remedy. The ease in planting and maintaining this plant make it an ideal choice for planting around the house. Plant shrubs with wind direction in mind. Since south winds are generally warmer than north winds, it is considered sufficient to have moderate protection on the east and desirable to leave the south open or restricted to rows of shrubs and deciduous trees. More openness to the south allows solar gain in the winter and for summer ventilation house.

The economic incentive of reduced heating costs is additional to known benefits of reduced snow clearing. While most homes have at least some naturally treed areas or planted screens protecting their yard, the full potential benefit from tree planting is far from being realized.

Energy conservation is a growing concern. Current studies confirm what fuel oil dealers have known all along, homes with screens and buffers use considerably less fuel. The time to begin planning for an energy conscious future is now.

Bill Hirst Highland Hill Farm 5275 W Swamp Rd. Box 517, Fountainville Pa. 18923
About Author William J. Hirst :

Bill raises trees, plants,and shrubs on his farms, many located in Pennsylvania. He also has ranches out west for arrowhead collecting, fossil collecting and hunting for meteorites and big game.

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Article Added on Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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