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Green Building Throwback: Landscaping Common Sense

Colonial_home I was reading an article somewhere that said one could increase a home’s value by planting trees and properly landscaping the grounds.  Ostensibly, there are two reasons for this:  first, trees and landscaping can make a house look good, and second, they take time and care to grow, so mature landscaping illustrates the care a homeowner gives to their residence.  (Aside: this reason is akin to buying a 3 year-old vehicle from a retired person that only put 15,000 miles on it and stored it in the garage.)  But if we pay attention to history, there is a third reason–one that affects a home’s livability and monthly costs.  Proper landscaping can provide cooling for the interior. 

I came across this old Philadelphia, Pennsylvania statute from about 1672 that I think applies: 

Springfield_colonial_homeEvery owner or inhabitant of any and every house in Philadelphia, Newcastle and Chester shall plant one or more tree or trees, viz., pines, unbearing mulberries, water poplars, lime or other shady and wholesome trees before the door of his, her or their house and houses, not exceeding eight feet from the front of the house, and preserving the same, to the end that the said town may be well shaded from the violence of the sun in the heat of summer and thereby rendered more healthy

We’re talking about a time when people didn’t have air conditioning or electricity.  Sure, they lived differently and had different lifestyles, but I like to think they wanted to stay cool when they could.  So landscaping can have a dramatic effect on the interior temperature of your home.  Well-shaded homes requires less air conditioning and that cuts back on your electricity/energy bills.  Proper landscape planning will allow you to maximize natural light and minimize violent sun rays.  And this is important to healthy home living. 

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