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Energy Wise Garden Design

– Posted in: Sustainable Gardening
Shade in summer - sun in winter

Passive Solar Planting

During these winter months in Melbourne, you like to get every bit of sunlight you can coming into the house.  If you have rooms with windows facing north, you’d be getting those nice warming rays coming through at a low angle for most of the daylight hours.  This helps warm the home, reducing the need for artificial heating.

So, it makes sense to clear the area outside your windows to let the sun in through winter.  But what about summer time when you want to block it out?  Deciduous plants provide the perfect solution.  Trees that lose their leaves in winter and then provide a shady canopy in summer can not only help to give winter warmth but shade and protect the house from the heat of the summer sun.  That saves on some energy for air conditioning.

If you have north facing windows without much of an awning, an ideal addition might be a pergola draped with a deciduous climber such as a grape vine.   You could enjoy the bonus of a fruit harvest while relaxing under its cool, shady canopy when the sun is high.  Another bonus is the wonderful seasonal colour in Autumn.

On the western side of the house you will want full evergreen protection from the harsh afternoon summer sun. Planting evergreen trees or tall shrubs can do the trick there.

Wind protection

Trees and shrubs can also be used as protective barriers to prevailing winds. In Melbourne these are generally from the west swinging around from the south with cold weather and from the north with warm weather. Depending on how your house is situated, providing some sturdy but attractive plants can make your home more comfortable and enjoyable. It can also help with fuel bills.

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