5 Energy Efficient Landscaping Elements

Once you’ve found (or built) the perfect Utah home, it’s time to begin designing and creating the ideal landscape to complement your home. While many different kinds of landscaping can be aesthetically pleasing, one of the biggest considerations in this desert state is how your outdoor design affects the efficiency of your home.

Here are five landscaping elements that can help regulate your home’s climate control and keep your carbon footprint (and energy bills) as small as possible.

1. Shade Trees

Direct sunlight can cause significant heat transfer, especially at higher altitudes. This heat transfer may make it difficult to maintain a cool interior temperature during the summer months. Luckily, the low humidity in Utah makes it easy to counteract this phenomenon by simply providing strategic shade. Plant shade trees or climbing vines to cast shadows over these vulnerable areas:

  • Your Windows: Most heat transfer occurs through your windows. Create shade for the windows that receive the most direct sunlight.
  • Your Air Conditioning Unit: If your external AC components are out in the sun, they have to work harder to create and circulate cool air. Plant trees or shrubs a few feet from your unit so you get the benefit of shade without cutting off the ventilation required for the unit to run efficiently.
  • Your Driveway and Walkways: Broad stone or concrete areas like your driveway and any paths attract and absorb heat, raising the temperature in your yard. The higher the temperature immediately around your home, the harder your cooling system has to work to keep the interior temperature down.

2. Wind Breaks

Utah is classified as a cool, high-altitude desert environment. However, the microclimates (climate found in your immediate area, which may be as small as your yard) found in Utah are extremely diverse. Evaluate how wind moves through your yard to determine your microclimate’s specific needs.

With a little strategic planning and planting, you can block cold seasonal winds and funnel cool summertime breezes directly into your windows.

3. Dead Spaces

Unlike your phone’s “dead zones,” dead space in your yard is actually a good thing. Dead space refers to an area where natural wind is almost entirely blocked. While your wind breaks can direct gales your home and funnel seasonal breezes inside, dead spaces are a landscaping element which completely block off sections of your yard from external airflow. You can create dead spaces using dense shrubs or short evergreen trees.

Dead space several feet wide around your home supplements the insulation in your walls. And, just like your interior insulation, dead spaces protect your home from the harshest temperatures in every season by regulating the temperature immediately around your home, upping your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Smart Irrigation

In desert climates, water costs can soar quickly, especially during the summer months. In addition to your in-home water conservation efforts, implement these irrigation strategies to keep your yard green without wasting water:

  • Collect rainwater to water your yard or divert rainwater directly into your flowerbeds.
  • Water the roots of your plants instead of the leaves.
  • Leave grass clippings on your lawn. This technique, known as grass cycling, creates a natural layer of mulch that keeps your lawn damp after watering and protects from direct sunlight.
  • Use mulch to prevent evaporation.
  • Divide plants according to their watering needs so it’s easier to create a watering strategy.

5. Native Plants

One of the easiest ways to prevent wasted water is to plant native plants. In Utah and other dry states, native plants are hardy and need less water than imported flowers and shrubs. Consider adding these native plants to your garden:


  • Big Tooth Maple
  • Water Birch
  • Desert Willow
  • Utah Juniper
  • Pinion Pine


  • Indian Paintbrush
  • Desert Marigold
  • Wild Geranium
  • Sunflower
  • Globemallow


  • Creosote Bush
  • Golden Currant
  • Chokecherry
  • Sagebrush
  • Squawbush Sumac

For more native plants and ideas for growing a Utah garden, check out PlantNative.org.

Whether your personal aesthetic calls for a gorgeous green lawn and flowering perennials or a quirky cactus garden, you have options for creating the perfect outdoor space for your new home. Use these tactics to make your space attractive and environmentally friendly.

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