Can I have a Garden and a Geothermal Heat Pump Too?

One of the things many people love about owning a home is an attractive lawn and pretty garden. So when we talk to homeowners about energy savings and other benefits of a geothermal (or ground source) heat pumps, they often raise concerns about what will happen to their yards.

But the belief that you can’t have both a pretty yard or garden and a ground source heat pump is a misconception. The two can live happily side by side with a little planning.

Depending on the type of loop you install (vertical or horizontal) we do have to dig up a portion of your yard. We will work with you to make sure we select a path which will cause the least disruption.

The loops for a typical geothermal heat pump are buried between 3’ and 10’ below the surface. When we have completed the installation you will have many options of what you plant above the loop.

Here are a few things to remember as you plan the landscaping above your ground source heat pump.

Often the easiest thing to plant is grass. Whether you lay down sod, or simply reseed the area, the loop underneath will not affect the growth of the lawn. Once the grass comes in, you can mow this area just as you would any other part of your lawn.

Looking for something more decorative? Consider planning wildflowers. Our climate in Indianapolis gives you a wide range of choices. With some blooming in early spring, and other varieties appearing late in the summer, or even early fall you will have color in your garden almost half the year.

In addition to wildflowers, you can choose to plant smaller ornamental grasses or non-woody perennials. Similar to wildflowers these plants have shallow root systems which will not interfere with the functioning of your geothermal loop.

Wildflowers, shrubs and grass for planting around your loop

One thing to consider is the plants’ ability to handle slight temperature changes. When a geothermal heat pump is working correctly, it is using the water at the end of the loop to heat or cool the refrigerant going through its lines.

As the refrigerant moves through the loop, you may see slight changes in the soil temperature. Typically, the change isn’t huge but in cooling mode, the soil around the loop will be cooler than normal, just as it’ll be warmer when in heating mode. Plants that will do well are those that adjust to a range of temperatures easily.

Small shrubs are fine, but it would be best to avoid trees directly on top of or close to the loop. Trees send out roots to look for water. You have probably seen tree roots disrupting a sidewalk, or creating hills and ridges in the yard. Avoid any issues in your yard, by not planting a tree directly above the loop.

Looking for other ideas? Contact a landscape professional for suggestions. Just be sure to tell him/her that you have a loop buried beneath the surface. Then plant your garden, add water and sun and enjoy the view.

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