Ryan Connolly

 

We've talked this month about changes you can make to your home that are environmentally friendly, but have missed one aspect of a green home -- the outside. Here are a series of ways to carry your green living tips beyond those four walls:

Reel lawn mowers - Reel lawn mowers are an eco-friendly alternative to gas-powered rotary models and a boon to energy conservation. Being muscle-powered, there is no engine involved. Using them not only promotes energy conservation but also clean air. Another option? Buy a home with a smaller yard or convert grass into alternative surfaces.

Planting for energy conservation - Where you locate plantings of trees and shrubs can also play a role in energy conservation. Extensive lawns are useful for homeowners interested in badminton, ball playing and hosting social barbecues. But if you are more interested in turning your yard into a retreat meant for serenity, solitude and contemplation, the role of turf grass may be reduced drastically in favor of trees. A well-planned incorporation of trees and shrubs in your yard is an effective means of energy conservation. For example:

- Deciduous trees can be planted to the south and west of a home to serve as shade trees, reducing summer air conditioning costs. Because such trees will drop their leaves in winter, they won't deprive your home of sunlight when you need it.

- Evergreen trees planted to the north and west of a home can serve as windbreaks. By breaking the wind, such trees will reduce your heating costs in winter.

- Likewise, shrubs used as foundation plantings can reduce heating costs, creating an insulating dead air space around the home. Just be sure to plant the shrubs a few feet away from your foundation.

Water conservation -  Lawns require more watering than planting beds. In watering planting beds comprised of individual plants, you can target the watering better (using drip irrigation, for instance), thereby promoting water conservation. Rain barrels can also be used to capture rain water for various outdoor water uses, such as plant watering and car washing. One local site for rain barrels is Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER.

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