Landscaping together with the location and type of plants you select, the positioning of paths and outdoor feature areas, the extent of grassed areas and garden beds play an important part in contributing to the 'street appeal' of your home.
Many sites may have existing trees or shrubs that you wish to retain and incorporate with your design. - In fact in many cases you will find you may need Council approval to remove any significant existing vegetation.
In the context of the comfort and thermal performance of your home your landscape design should also be given consideration for its ability to modify the effect of the sun and winds.
Planting deciduous trees to the north side of the home to curtail summer and enable winter sun will possibly be the first to come to mind with most. Unfortunately this benefit may take 5 even 10 years, depending upon the species, to have an effect.
Planting windbreaks to the southern side can divert cold winter winds away from doorways and glass areas but unless positioned correctly can also curtail the cool summer breezes searched for during the middle of summer.
In the initial stages of the gardens development it may be a benefit to install temporary window shading until plants are established sufficiently. For example a vertical screen or external blinds may be used for easterly or westerly facing windows until deciduous shrubs can provide shade. Timber slats can be temporarily provided to pergolas until creepers or vines are established.
Large paved areas outside north facing glass reflecting sun can be controlled during summer by deciduous vines and trees. Many articles on low energy designed homes will recommend these northern areas to be grassed or landscaped with low shrubs to absorb heat and reduce glare, but properly laid out these areas can not only be ideal for winter outdoor entertaining but can also have the effect of tempering summer winds. A pergola area, covered by a deciduous vine, bordered by greenery and a water feature can provide a visually cooling effect as well as physical protection from the hot summer sun.
Landscaping layout is possibly one of the most under utilised items employed by Building Designers during the design stage of a home, often being treated as an add on and not an integral part of the design. Dollar for dollar it is probably the cheapest and most effective way of improving year round comfort and energy efficiency of your home.
There are many excellent sources for landscape design ideas with descriptions of appropriate shrubs and trees to suit particular locations and their suitability for screening, shading etc.
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