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Energy-Wise landscape Design: Book Review for

Energy-Wise Landscape Design by Sue Reed, New Society Publishers

Don’t let the title of this book put you off. This may sound like a technical or an academic publication, but it is not. It reads like a friendly user’s manual. It explains how some landscaping design ideas help to conserve energy. With clear and clever illustrations by Kate Dana, and with simple step-by-step suggestions, the author coaches us into creating a sustainable, energy-efficient property. Primarily, the book explains how to help cool a house in summer and warm it in winter, using sun, wind, trees and plants. In addition, the goal of the book is to help property owners use less energy in building, landscaping and maintaining homes and gardens. A long term objective is to reduce dependence on foreign energy and to improve the environment.

The book is divided into 7 sections: In sections 1 and 2 suggestions are offered on how to arrange the landscape in order to make houses more comfortable in summer and winter. Included are the role that tree placement plays in providing shade in summer, the strategy for capturing cooling breezes, and reducing ground heat that surrounds a home. The winter section explains how to maximize the sun’s heat, plant windbreaks and buffers, and position the home to deflect wind.

Sections 3 and 4 provide design ideas for saving energy in the landscape. These include the use of regionally native plants that harmonize with local soil conditions and the re evaluating of the lawn in order to conserve water and operating energy for mowers. This section also offers help in designing properties that sparingly use electricity for outdoor lighting and watering systems. Further topics discussed here are the using of slopes to their ecological advantage, the efficient use of landscaping materials, optimal locations for homes in relation to sun and wind, and designing a car park area constructed with the least amounts of energy and natural resources.

Section 5 advises the reader how to develop and care for a landscape while conserving energy. Topics include the role of top soil, amendments, plants, mulch, wildflowers, planting techniques, low maintenance lawns, and water conservation.

Section 6 instructs the small property homeowner how to generate energy from wind, sunlight and flowing water.  

Section 7 offers a discussion about energy efficient outdoor lighting.

The book is rounded out with a helpful appendix that, among other things, instructs on how to determine a pitch of a slope or a tree shadow’s size and direction. This is followed by an invaluable appendix listing the size of the the shade canopy of trees.

Sue Reed is a landscape architect and educator. Her focus is environmentally sound, energy efficient and sustainable landscape design and she has worked in this field for over 25 years. With a style of writing that is easy to absorb, she has created a valuable manual that readers will enjoy exploring. The ideas and suggestions found in this book are described in such simple detail that anyone will be able to adapt them to a variety of different landscape projects. Sue Reed is a gifted writer with a remarkable ability to tackle complex, technical information, distill it down to its essence, and explain it in everyday language. This reviewer hopes she will write more.


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Reader Comments (4)

Sounds like a winner to me! I will have to buy this one. Thanks for the great review Allan. ;>)

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolflowerhill

Sounds like an interesting book.

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Sounds like a great book! It might help me out with the landscaping project I have planned for next spring when the flower shop flowers I plan to plant will do better in my soil. Thanks for sharing!

November 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercecilgrass

This sounds a good book. This might help me to develop my landscaping skills.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterspokane landscaping

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