Spring is on the way, and everyone's already thinking about getting out into the warmer weather. (Unless, of course, you are as unlucky as we are up here in Colorado, and are still struggling with the occasional foot of snow…) But even if the weather isn't cooperating, you still may be interested in learning more about how you can use landscaping to make your home more energy efficient.
It's one of those ideas that, while easy to overlook, makes a lot of sense: Properly planned out landscaping can help shave the peaks and valleys off of the most intense weather your home is exposed to. It can shade rooms that get too much sun in the summer, protect your home from the coldest winter winds, and funnel summer winds toward your home.
The landscaping section on Energy Savers has all the information you need, but here's an overview.
The first thing to consider is your climate (the weather zone that you live in) and your microclimate (the specific weather around your home.) This will help you identify the unique challenges your house faces from its climate, and will help you target your landscaping efforts to address these.
There's also information about what to consider when you need to shade your home or develop wind breaks to protect your home from the winter winds. And, finally, there is guidance on how to xeriscape and water your landscaping so that you conserve as much water as possible.
Now, for the most part, a lot of this information is extremely general. The main reason for that is simple: Given that every house in America has a unique microclimate, we can't give very meaningful advice about what you can do. Additionally, Allison did a great job of explaining why we can't endorse specific products or services.
But you may want to take advantage of the resources provided in the "Learn More" box in the right column. The American Society of Landscape Architects has a Find a Firm tool that lets you find landscapers in your area, and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers has a Find a Designer search. These local contractors will be able to help you identify solutions for your landscaping—and with the information outlined on the Energy Savers site, you'll know what you need to consider to make a more energy efficient home.