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Re: gravel

He covers things briefly in a short space, but does touch on some important

Ground Cover Plants Take Heat Off House
by James Dulley

Qstn: I am trying to decide between using decorative gravel or groundcover
plants near my house.  I know the gravel gets hot in sun, but the plants
will make the air more humid.  Which is the best to use?

Answr:  Gravel or stone that is exposed to the hot afternoon sun can become
a heat island.  This hot area can re-radiate the heat up through your walls
and into your windows.  Also, because gravel has a high thermal mass
capacity and is heavy, it stays hot long after the sun goes down.

Decorative gravel can be an attractive accent, but limit its use to aeas
that receive shade from deciduous trees.  During winter, when trees lose
their leaves, the free solar heat stored in the gravel will be welcomed.

Low-growing groundcover in sunny locations adjacent to the house is a good
choice for most climates.  This is particularly true if you a/c your home.
If your windows and doors are properly weather-stripped, the higher humidity
of the air above the plants will not get inside your home.

Plants, even small ones close to the ground, act as mini-airconditioners.
The air temperature near them is often at least 10 degrees cooler than the
ambient temperature.  This lower air temp near your house means that less
heat energy will transfer indoors through walls and windows.

The process by which plants cool air is called transpiration.  The leaves of
the plants evaporate large quantities of water into the surrounding air.
This is a similar cooling effect to when we perspire.  When liquid water
changes states to water vapor, it consumes energy and thus becomes cooler.

If you don't a/c  and rely on natural ventilation through your windows,
plant very low groundcover that is drought resistant.  This is especially
true of humid climates.  Drought resistant plants will give off less
humidity, and they will not absorb and hold the sun's heat as gravel does.

Where you have a concrete walk or driveway near the house that cannot be
shaded, plant some medium-height deciduous shrubs.  These will block the
direct radiant heat path from the hot walk or driveway to your house.

When selecting your plants, consider the plants' height, spread, texture,
foliage, and whether they are deciduous or evergreen.  A variety of plants
with complimentary and contrasting colors can create a stunning appearance.
Try to select ones that have similar watering needs.

Use mulch liberally around the plants near your house  Mulch creates
contrast with the plants' green foliage and slows water evaporation from the
soil.  This is good for the plants and for the cooling process.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Theresa- yahoo" <tchessie@yahoo.com>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 9:51 PM
Subject: RE: [CHAT] gravel

> Having an area full of gravel-  I'd be interested in more info.
> Theresa
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net]On
> Behalf Of Kitty
> Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 6:44 PM
> To: Agardenchat
> Subject: [CHAT] gravel
> Well, what do you know.  James Dulley's article in today's paper was on
> gravel vs groundcover plants.  He's the guy who writes articles about
> furnace is more efficient or how to put in a sump pump.
> He made some very interesting points about why and where you would use
> different materials and what effects it would have on the heating,
> and humidity in your house.
> I'll expand only if anyone is interested.  Could be the article is in your
> own paper today.
> Kitty
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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