Landscaping for Beauty, Energy Efficiency, and Home Comfort with Tony Pratte

Landscaping for Beauty and Home Comfort GHC

We are very excited to have Tony Pratte, our regularly-scheduled guest host, joining us again for today’s podcast. In today’s episode, Tony will be talking to us about landscaping for energy efficiency.

Tony likes to keep his mind active, so he is currently one class away from finishing up a project management program at St. Louis University.  And his business is still moving, even with the current situation with economies shutting down because of new construction in St. Louis being construed as an essential business. 

Protecting yourself, and others coming into your home

To protect yourself, and anyone else who might need to come into your home during this unprecedented time, like a plumber or an electrician, you need to follow some strict hygiene procedures. 

In Tony’s company, and with most other service providers, if an employee is sick, they have to stay home. Also, if someone at an employee’s household is sick, and that employee shows up at a construction site, the employee will not be allowed to enter the construction site. 

Looking at the outside of your home

Since it is spring now, and we’re all spending so much more time at home, it’s a great time to start thinking about what you could be doing on the outside of your home. You could consider planting a garden and getting everything outside cleaned up, after the winter. 

Using landscape to improve the performance of your home

We all appreciate the beauty of the plants on our property, but we often tend to forget about the benefits they could be providing for the home itself, which in turn would provide benefits to us, the homeowners.  

The concept of landscaping for energy efficiency is nothing new. It can be used to control the flow of energy in and out of a house, to reduce the amount of unwanted energy flow, to reduce outdoor water use, and for storm-water management, just to mention a few ways. 

Although people have been doing it for centuries, many individuals today still don’t realize that the landscape can be used to improve the performance of their homes. 

The landscape can be used as protection for houses. 

This can be done by planting a line of trees to the north of the building, to form a windbreak, or by planting tall, shady trees to shade the windows and to shade the roof from the direct sun, in the summer.

It’s important to remember that the sun is higher in the summer and lower in the winter. So planting deciduous trees for shade is a great green solution because they will let the sunlight in, in the winter, and create shade in the summer. 

Marla reminds us that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, and the next best time is now. Trees can take a long time to reach their full height and provide good cover but they are truly well worth waiting for!

Deciduous trees

It’s best to plant deciduous trees fifteen to twenty feet from your home, to block out the higher summer sun, and let the warmth of the lower winter sun in, to warm up the home.  

Green design

With green design, one of the first things that are discussed is the site itself, and the orientation of the house.

Planting for your specific region

You can reach out to botanical gardens in your area, for information about the right native plants to use for your specific region. These native plants have evolved to withstand the extreme temperatures of their region. They are sure to not only survive but also to thrive in your garden and around your home. They will require less water and they won’t need any chemical support, like pesticides or herbicides.

Become water-wise

Ensure that your automatic sprinkler system is set up to switch off in the rain. And that it is watering your lawn and garden, not the sidewalk or your driveway! 

Or perhaps a drip-system could prove to be a better alternative for you than a sprinkler system. The drip-system is controlled, and it allows you to get the water onto the roots of the plants, rather than all over the leaves.

Harvesting rainwater

Rain barrels can be used to harvest the water coming off the roof. 

Rain gardens help to percolate the rainwater back into the ground. They’re a great way to hold excess water in your yard. Many municipalities have now mandated rain gardens for new construction. 

Links and resources:

Milorganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer 

Romanesco Broccoli Heirloom Seeds – Non-GMO – Untreated – Open Pollinated!

Chives Herb Heirloom Seeds – Non-GMO – Untreated – Open Pollinated!

Vegetable Spaghetti Squash Heirloom Seeds – Non-GMO -Untreated -Open Pollinated!

Resource Guide (The Landscaping for Beauty and Home Comfort GHC.pdf)

The University of Missouri’s Extension Programs for Landscaping for Energy Efficiency 

US Department of Energy 

Grow Native Missouri