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Landscaping Tips: Using Rocks Without Turning Up The Heat

Landscape rocks are considered an integral part of many yard and garden designs, but they can create a heat sink effect that can harm your landscape plants or even your home. The heat absorbed by the rocks can heat up your home’s interior or make outdoor patios too uncomfortable to spend time on. Fortunately, understanding how the different types of rocks can affect the heat around your home, and the best ways to use them, allows you to enjoy rocks in your landscape without any ill effects.

Rock Color and Heat Retention

It’s common knowledge that light colors reflect heat and light, while darker colors absorb it. The same is true for any rocks placed in the landscape. Light-colored rocks will reflect light and heat, which means they may reflect more light and heat into the home nearby. Dark rocks, on the other hand, will absorb the heat into the ground. This may make it easier to grow certain plants in cooler climates.

The Best Locations for Landscape Rocks

Location is everything when you are deciding which rocks to use and where to use them. Generally, you will want to avoid heavy rock usage on the south and west side of a home in all but the mildest of climates. This is because you do not want to overheat the home or tax its cooling systems by creating heat sinks on the sunniest sides of the house.

In shaded areas, white rocks are a better choice than dark rocks. This is because the white rocks will reflect up what little light and heat penetrates the shade, making the area seem brighter and helping to increase the temperature in the area slightly. Dark rocks are generally better used in sunnier areas where you don’t want or desire the reflected light.

Creating Buffer Zones

One way to minimize light and heat reflection into the home is to create a buffer zone between the house and the landscape rocks. You can also use this concept around patios and other outdoor areas that you don’t want located next to a heat sink.

Plants are the best buffer. You can plant shrubs between the rock landscaping and the buffer area. Another option is to place narrow border beds, filled with small shrubs, perennials, or annual flowers. The plants will also benefit from the added warmth that radiates from the rocks.

You can also use decorative screening to create a buffer. Wood or vinyl lattice is the most common. Use the screening on its own or use it to support plants, such as climbing vines. Another option is to use bamboo as a living screen. Choose a clumping bamboo variety to avoid invasiveness concerns.

For more information, contact Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. or a similar company.

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