Sunshine and shadow to modify the temperature of a house

By Colleen and Geoff Keena

This article first appeared in the Garden Design Study Group Newsletter, May 2019. More information on the Garden Design study group managed by our ‘mother’ organisation can be found here.

Melia in spring, image Colleen and Geoff Keena

Since moving here in 2000, the temperatures have varied from 47 C in Summer to -6 C in Winter.

The use of appliances to modify temperature, such as an air-conditioner or heater, impacts on expenses and on the environment. However, their use can be minimised or even made unnecessary, by planting deciduous native trees, Melia azedarach along the north of the house.

In summer, Melia trees are a mass of foliage, so reducing the heat that can enter the house.

In winter, the trunks are completely bare, thus allowing full sun into the house for winter warmth.

Planting a row of Melia to the north of the house has meant that in summer, a comfortable temperature is reached with the use of fans or an evaporative air-conditioner. There is no heating in winter, other than in the bathroom for early morning showers.

Melia azedarach not only modifies the temperature of our house but provides seasonal changes not often seen in the sub-tropics. The perfumed flowers in Spring attract a range of butterflies. The stunning foliage in Autumn is a reminder of the bare branches to follow in Winter.

Perfumed flowers in spring, image Colleen and Geoff Keena
Melia in summer, image Colleen and Geoff Keena
Melia in autumn, image Colleen and Geoff Keena