Between the distinctive red rocks and the proliferation of cactus and scrub, it’s hard to forget that St. George is located in the middle of a desert. We become especially aware of our desert climate in the summer when temperatures hover in excess of 100 degrees for days on end.
If talk of the approaching heat makes you want to run for the hills, there’s some good news. With a little heat-wise landscaping you can cool your yard considerably, turning it from a scorching no-man’s land to a refreshing oasis. Whether you choose to work with a local landscaper or go it alone, here are 5 landscaping features to help beat the heat in Southern Utah.
Use Shade To Cool Down Your Landscape
It may come as no surprise that one of the best ways to make your landscape feel cooler is by adding shade. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no separate “temperature in the shade.” The temperature beneath a man-made shade structure is the same as in the surrounding area. And yet, it feels 10 to 15 degrees cooler in the shade because you’re avoiding solar radiation.
You can throw some shade in your yard in two ways: by planting trees and by using a man-made structure.
Add Shade With Trees
Planting trees is a wonderful way to cool your landscape because trees do more than provide shade. Trees possess a superpower called transpiration. Their roots draw moisture from the soil, then release heat-absorbing water through their leaves and stems. In this way, a tree cools its immediate atmosphere.
Trees are nature’s air conditioning. If that’s not enough to send you to your local nursery, consider that carefully planted shade trees can block the sun from your house’s exterior, making for big savings on your cooling bill. Deciduous trees that flourish in St. George include:
- Arizona Ash
- Blue Ghost Eucalyptus
- Cottonless Cottonwood
- London Plane Sycamore
- Navajo Globe Willow
- Western Cottonwood
Add Shade With Man-Made Structures
If you want a shadier yard during the heat of the summer, which here in St. George continues unabated through early fall, you can head to a nearby garden center. There, you can pick up portable solutions like a gazebo or patio umbrella. Or, you can collaborate with a landscaping company to have shade structures installed, like:
- Patio covers
- Shade sails
Shade sails are becoming increasingly popular because they are relatively inexpensive and yet provide versatile sun coverage. A shade sail can be rectangular or triangular and used alone—supported via tension ropes tied to poles or other supports—or in combination to create a dramatic effect. Shade sails can cover just about any part of your patio and yard, including your pool.
Shade sails over a pool can keep your water from heating up too precipitously, and cut back considerably on exposure to UV rays.
From Cool To Chill
Here are a couple of tips to make a shade structure an even cooler place to chill. One is to have your landscaper put in a pergola. Not only will the slats help block the sun, but you can train vines to grow along them. Given woody vines also release water through transpiration, it will make the shaded area cooler. Many vines often burst into colorful bloom during warm weather, making your pergola a picturesque focal point.
Another way to make a shaded nook cooler is to attach misters to its perimeter. For instance, you might attach misters to a canopy shading your table. While you’re enjoying an al fresco meal, the misters will emit a fog-like mist that provides both ambiance and a cooler temperature. Just make sure your misters are high-powered because sitting below more sluggish misters can make you look like you just took a shower!
Introducing A Water Feature Can Cool Your Landscape
When you introduce a water feature into your desert landscape, it makes the whole space more refreshing. Because water features can become their own microclimate, they can actually cool an area by 10 percent.
Water features are eye-catching and often produce a sound that’s soothing to the ear and soul.
Common water features include:
- Cooldown pool
Pave Your Way To Coolness
Another way to make your landscape cooler is to ensure your pavers are light-colored because darker pavers soak up and retain more heat. Even light pavers can become hot enough to burn your feet. There are some ways to help your pavers stay cooler, though. You can:
- Hang outdoor drapes or bamboo screens to further shade your porch, patio or other shade structure.
- Install a misting system to spray your patio and pavers throughout the day.
- Plant shade trees along the perimeter of your patio or pathway
- Use permeable pavers that retain water and stay cooler
At Stonetree, we don’t just aim to help your desert landscape thrive. We work to make sure you are thriving in your desert landscape. If you’d like a consultation on how to cool down or otherwise improve your landscape, contact us for your free consultation.