Whether it's the rolling hills of a grand estate, the lush flowers of a tropical garden, or a small collection of succulents in an urban apartment, adding greenery to the inside or outside of your home has a bevy of benefits. In fact, landscaping and implementing greenery can act as a natural coolant, reduce noise pollution, protect a home against wind, clean the air, and reduce water overflow and flooding.
Benefit #1: Reducing Temperatures and Providing Shade
You probably already knew that the shady area under a tree is cooler than being in the direct sunlight, but you may not have noticed the extended benefits of landscaping beyond the shade of a tree. In general, greenery is excellent at reducing temperatures, not just because of the shade it provides, but also because of how it addresses the heat from the sun.
The Cooling Powers of Grass
Grass, for example, is significantly cooler than concrete or asphalt, because it has a low albedo, or reflectivity of the sun’s light. As a result, it absorbs most of the sunlight that hits it. Grass also is a high conductor of heat, which, in concert with the low albedo, produces a mild, stable microclimate that can easily be 20 degrees less than the temperature of concrete pavement.
Benefit #2: Reducing Noise
Another important benefit of landscaping is its ability to reduce noise. Believe it or not, two or three rows of trees alongside a busy road can reduce noise by seven decibels, depending on the type of tree and distance from the noise source.
The Best Plants For Noise Reduction
Even grass, compared to concrete, can reduce noise by about 20 to 30 percent because the soft blades of grass deflect and absorb sound as opposed to reflecting it, like how concrete and other hard surfaces do. Generally speaking, the best types of plants to reduce noise are dense trees or hedges, especially ones with broad leaves. Plants that have leaves year-round, like evergreens, are particularly effective at blocking out noise, especially holly or juniper trees. However, it's also important to use trees and shrubs that are native and appropriate to the local climate and region so that caring for them requires minimal effort. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly watering and tending to them.
Benefit #3: Blocking the Wind
Plants can effectively block not only noise, but also the negative effects of wind during the cooler months. Again, depending on the region, evergreen trees can be beneficial because they don’t lose their leaves in the winter, so they can continue to block winter winds. After determining the direction of the prevailing wind in the winter, make sure to plant your trees or shrubs in areas where they can provide an ideal balance between blocking the wind, allowing winter sunlight to warm an area, and providing shade in the summer.
Benefit #4: Improving Your Health
When used throughout both the interior and exterior of a home, plants can be valuable not just for the environment, but also for your heath. Of course, plants produce oxygen and can help reduce carbon dioxide levels, but some research also suggests that indoor plants can help reduce other toxins found in indoor environments.
The Best Plants For Your Health
Scientists look to plants like peace lilies, ferns, certain types of orchids, and a specific type of palm tree called parlor palms to improve air quality indoors.
Benefit #5: Reducing Stormwater Runoff and Flooding
Finally, an important role that plants can play in helping the environment is through their ability to reduce stormwater runoff and flooding. After a heavy storm, rainwater that can’t be absorbed into the ground (usually because of the presence of non-absorbent materials like asphalt and concrete) runs off into local sewer systems or bodies of water, usually collecting pollutants and sediment along the way. Large volumes of water can overwhelm these drainage systems, leading to flooding, which is not good news for most homeowners.
How to Bring Out This Benefit
To prevent this, the use of planting can be used at a range of scales, from entire green roofs to minimal landscaping changes, such as selecting native plants that won't need much care or watering in-between rainfalls. Even just replacing poured concrete with pervious pavers on an outdoor path can have a serious impact.
Have any other ways you've successfully incorporated landscaping into your life? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments.