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How Landscaping Can Keep Your House Safe

Done right, landscaping can keep your house safe and reduce energy bills. Here’s how.

When it comes to landscaping, there’s more than curb appeal to consider. What and where you plant can also impact your home’s energy efficiency and safety.

Keep Cool With Shade
Temperatures can be up to 25 degrees cooler in the shade than in unshaded areas. In the summer, that can make a big difference in the heat your house absorbs. Deciduous trees planted to the southeast, southwest and west can cast a shadow over the house during the morning and afternoon, cutting radiant heat by as much as 70 percent.

Reduce Wildfire Threats
Homeowners in fire-prone areas might consider reducing the number of plants that could ignite in a wildfire. The general rule is to maintain a 30-foot buffer, free of trees and shrubs, around the house. Another fire-wise approach is to create an open landscape design, with widely spaced trees and shrubs that are trimmed high off the ground. Also, choose native plants, which are more fire-resistant than transplanted materials.

Keep Basements Dry
Proper grading directs water away from your foundation and basement. To whisk water away, make sure the dirt around your foundation slopes away from the house and toward the yard. Plant flowers and grasses near your house to help drink up any excess.

Block Cold Wind
Planting a windbreak can slow biting cold winds and reduce your heating bill. Evergreens planted on the northwest side of a home save you up to 25 percent on winter energy bills. In a windy area, plantings on the north, east and west can save you up to 40 percent.

The most successful windbreaks deflect winds up and over the house. These windbreaks have four stages: low shrubs planted farthest from the house, followed by larger bushes closer in, then deciduous trees and, finally, evergreens.

Avoid Ice Damage
Often, property damage from an ice-storm can be prevented. To avoid falling limbs, keep your tree branches trimmed and away from the house.

Learn about suitable plants for your area by contacting a professional landscaper or a university extension office. And, find out more about landscaping for energy efficiency at

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