Monday, June 4, 2018

Gardening Chatter

You've likely heard me talk about greening buildings, yards, balconies etc. on the radio show, or read posts about it here or in our Trash Talk book series...

Today I'd like to share a few thoughts on how planting a little green can save you a lot of green - cold hard cash. 

First - landscaping can increase the value of your home by 15-20%! This works best when you are considering curb appeal, planting for privacy and also diversity. Mature landscapes or those a few years old are much more likely to drive up the value of your home. Simply installing a patio area and entrance area with interesting plants can increase the value of your home by 4-12%! It really is that easy. 

As you've heard me talk about on the radio show, you can use plants to increase the energy efficiency of your home. If you plant deciduous trees (those that drop leaves in the fall) on the south and west sides of your home - shade will be created, keeping the home cooler in the summer. You can also plant vertical vines such as honey suckle, or edibles such as pole and runner beans, to grow up the side of your home if you have limited space. Either way you have more shade, but also the leaves mitigate moisture in the air surrounding your home and entrances to the building - and that reduces the heat on your property as well... by as much as 14˚C. These plants drop their leaves in the fall giving you fodder for the compost or mulch for your perennials and that allows the sun to warm the home during the cold months.

Planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the prevailing wind side of the home will protect it from stronger winds that try to find their way through small cracks and gaps of a building ...which decreases the energy efficiency, especially in winter. They also provide a both a living privacy screen and wind break for the garden, sitting areas, entrances, primary windows, air conditioning units, etc.

Shrubs and trees help reduce dust kicked up from the street - while cleaning the air for the inhabitants or workers of the building. In fact just 2 mature trees can produce enough oxygen for a family of 4 and absorb 300 kg of pollution each year! 

If you live in an apartment or condo building you can use your balcony instead. Plant a variety of food producing plants, flowering plants and grasses of varying heights and seasonal productivity. Grasses provide interesting textures all year round. Limited growing space? Try vertical trellis gardening of things that climb like runner beans, pole beans, sweet or edible peas, honey suckles, Chinese wolf berry,  grapes, clematis, etc. You can grow these in front of building walls, along driveways (which help shade the vehicles), along fences, etc.

Feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start?

Start in one spot and gently, gradually work your way around the property or balcony or roof top... and keep diversity in mind so that you have a variety of plants providing a wide array of colors, textures, heights, food, flowers, bird habitat, etc.


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