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Look to the Future When Landscaping

By Nana Mejia, Colorado University Cooperative Extension Agent, Horticulture

When planning a landscape, first sketch out the land and the home to scale.  Use 1 inch for 8 to 10 linear feet.  Identify north with an arrow.

On the plan, mark driveways, leach fields, downspouts, utilities, fences, walkways, dog runs, overhead lines, existing plants, obstructions, doors, windows and other glass areas.   Measure the height of the house.  Observe the wind and effects of a winter storm on your building.  Note the direction of winter winds, usually northwest in origin, and add windbreaks of mostly evergreen trees to block the prevailing wind.

Observe the sun during different seasons of the year.  Notice where the sun strikes the house in early morning and late afternoon in the summer and between 9a.m. and 3p.m. in winter.  Add shade trees to your plan to maximize summer shading and winter solar heating.  Avoid planting evergreens on the south and southwest sides of your h9ome, because they will block winter solar heat.

Consider the height of the structure you want to shade or protect.  A single story building surrounded by medium-to-small trees appears aesthetically pleasing from a design perspective.  Remember that evergreens can provide screening from unsightly views and a sound barrier from traffic and loud noises.  They also can provide wind protection.

Keep in mind that large shade trees require large planting areas for the development of healthy root systems and a mature canopy.  Avoid planting trees that spread too close to structures.

Use fences, windbreak plantings and shade trees to provide a sun pocket on the south side of your home, creating a warm spot for outside activities during sunny, cool, comfortable winter days.  A sun pocket makes an excellent location for a patio or a greenhouse.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010