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Posts Tagged ‘landscaping’

How did it happen that it has been a couple of years since my last post?  When they say “time flies” it truly does.  Since I reference this blog during the classes I teach and invite people to look at it, I realized I have to keep posting!  And because the goal of the blog is to provide my readers with information and education here is the next installment on Embracing a “Green” lifestyle.  This one is on landscaping.

Landscapes offer many benefits to us, our property values, the environment, and wildlife.  Properties can look fantastic while also integrating conservation techniques into their landscaping.

Here are just a few reasons to create an environmentally friendly landscape:

  • Aesthetic benefits: enjoy lovely flowers, create outdoor rooms, add color, provide visual buffers, etc.
  • Erosion control: many plants have extensive root systems which hold soil in place, preventing rains from washing soil into our waterways.
  • Temperature modification: properly placed shade trees can cool your house in the summer, saving you money! A study shows that a single mature tree gets rid of as much heat on a home site as would require removal by two residential-size central air conditioners if the site were enclosed.  Trees keep surroundings cool and cooler surroundings reduce air conditioning requirements. Temperatures under vegetated areas on sunny summer days are about 10-14 degrees F cooler than those of exposed soil and hard surfaces.
  • Water conservation: shade provided by trees may greatly reduce watering needs in the shaded areas (water will evaporate from the soil more quickly when the ground is subjected to direct, intense heat from the sun).
  • Wind control: grouping trees and plants in windbreaks or clusters slows wind down, protecting your property.
  • Air pollution reduction: 150 square meters of plants provide enough oxygen for one person.  Plants also trap particulates from the air, so we don’t have to breathe them.
  • Reduces light pollution: from street lights, neighbors, glare, etc.  Trees and shrubs can also hide unattractive buildings.
  • Water pollution control: plants trap sediments and pollutants in water, hold shorelines in place, drink excess water, and allow water to percolate back to the aquifers.

Next, techniques for successfully achieving eco-friendly landscapes and applying landscaping to improving the energy efficiency of our homes.

 

  • Use trees and tall shrubs to shade east, west, northeast, and northwest sides of the house. In North and Central Florida, use full, tall-canopied deciduous trees on the south side.
  • Use foundation plantings to shade lower wall areas, to keep the ground next to the house cool and to block re-radiation from adjacent hot surfaces.
  • Use trees to shade the air conditioner.
  • Plant trees in clusters so that you can take better advantage of watering and growing conditions.
  • Select native plants that are correct for your area.  Native plants are going to be more adapted and tolerant to our soil and water conditions and can minimize the need for pest control, water and fertilizer, and maintenance.  Some examples in Florida:

Large Trees:

Medium and small trees:

Shrubs:

  • Replace grass with other types of ground cover.  Compared with grass, ground cover uses fewer pesticides and less water and is; therefore, more eco-friendly.  First think of leaving the natural vegetation on the land.  This saves you clearing expense, will require no maintenance (including no mowing), and can be a selling point to a client.

Ground cover:

  • Consider using mulches as ground cover; placing a layer of mulch directly around shrubs, trees and flower beds helps to conserve water.
  • Also consider planting a garden or using herbs such as mint or oregano as ground cover.

Watch your watering:

  • Water only when needed; when plants show signs of stress from lack of water.
  • Reduce watering during the rainy season and during the winter.
  • Water in early morning or early evening when temperatures and wind speeds are at their lowest.
  • Do not water between 10 am and 4 pm when losses from evaporation and wind can occur.
  • Allow sprinklers to run for the length of time to apply no more than ¾” of water to an area.
  • Always water deeply and thoroughly; it is better to give your lawn one good soaking each week than watering lightly each day.
  • Use automatic watering systems with rain sensors, which by Florida law are required on all automatic systems installed after 1991.
  • Use sprinklers with timers.

 

There – now start thinking about your landscaping and what you can do to make it more environmentally friendly and save you money!

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