Landscaping for Energy Efficiency

Although Green Building concentrates on the actual structure, it also includes the surrounding landscape and its impact on resources. Landscaping can reduce energy bills by 30% and increase the energy efficiency of your home through the systematic placement of plants. Important factors to take into consideration when looking at landscape site design: shading, windbreaks, climate, and water conservation.


Planting trees and dense shrubs on the north and northwest sides of your home will reduce the direct sunlight hitting your home and prevent a rise in temperature from the setting sun during the summer.  In the winter, the deciduous trees lose their leaves and allow for the evening sun to warm your home.  They also help keep your home cooler in warmer months by shading and ultimately reduce air temperature around your home.


The north side of your home is effected the most by cold winter winds.  Planting evergreens on the north and west sides of your home will act as a wind barrier, reduce slow air leaks year round, and protect your home from cold winter winds.

The maximum protection for an effective zone for a windbreak is between 5 – 7  times the tree height.  Therefore, if the trees are between 7 and 10 feet tall, they should be placed between 35 feet and 70 feet from your home.  The trees within the windbreak should vary in height and should extend to the ground.


Native plants are adapted to local climate and thrive with little to no maintenance.  Native plants can survive year-round with a variety of species from which to choose for your landscaping.  By using a greater diversity of plants, more seasonal interest is provided, impact from pests are reduced, and a greater habitat is created for wildlife.

Water Conservation

By landscaping with native plants or xeriscaping, you reduce your impact on water resources.  Drought resistant plants require less water.  Using mulch in gardens helps to retain moisture and reduce the need for watering.  Not only by using less water, but also by decreasing fertilizer and pesticide use, which degrades water quality and ultimately water quantity.