A good landscape can save you money by reducing your energy needs. Shade covers this wall mid day in November, but summer sun will scorch it in July and August.

As I walk around my neighborhood I can’t help but look at all the houses and landscapes. The desires of many homeowners dictate the look of old landscapes over the decades. But some of the newer homes and are clearly intended to reflect the personalities of the current owners.

Sometimes that means homeowners do things all by themselves, and sometimes they use professionals to help them. Unfortunately, despite all of this attention, someone forgot the basics. And one of the most important is that a good landscape can save you money!

This does not surprise to me, I have know how trees along the western part of the building can reduce cooling expenses since before I started my horticulture degree. But this does not seem to be common knowledge now. Many new designs focus so much on looks that they leave large western walls exposed to get roasted by the western summer sun. This effect was obvious in the days before central air, but it may just be the air conditioning that has helped us to forget it. With a quick flick of a switch the extreme heat from a west facing wall can almost instantly go away, seemingly without a trace. Without a trace until you look at the electricity bill, that is!

It doesn’t matter whether you have a new or an old landscape, you need to give some thought to the west side. Deciduous trees that lose their leaves make an obvious choice for the west side since they will allow some winter wind to hit the house and give it a little heat in the winter. But evergreens perform a nice job as well. Especially on the more northern part of the west side because of the angle of the sun in the winter time, they will not block the warming winter sun.

So step outside and take a look at the west side of your house. Are you willing to keep paying the extra money keeping the heat out year after year, or are you ready to buy a couple of trees and take a permanent chunk out of your heating bill? For me the answer is clear, and I planted a couple of trees on my west side. It will take a few years to get them to size, but it will be worth it!