Preparing for its seasonal cycle, the warmth from the sun is growing stronger, and with temperatures slowly increasing, I was able to dine on the patio at my local coffee shop this weekend. It's evident the days of winter are almost past, and springtime planting around the house will soon begin.

Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation thriving around your home aren't only beautiful, they can also save energy if carefully chosen and strategically planted.

The Energy Savers website offers information dedicated to getting you started in the right direction with your own landscaping at home.

One particularly helpful feature advises on landscaping according to the region in which you live. For instance, in the Hot-Humid Region, which includes most of the Southeast, the site suggests planting shade trees, along with plants that channel cool breezes toward your home?an effective way of cooling during the scorching summer months. It advises that in the windy, winter months, dense evergreens and shrubs serve as wind-breakers for your home, which reduces the cost of heating.

Visit the Energy Savers landscaping section to determine which plants can serve double duty and save you energy. Pass it on to your neighbors, too, because a shade tree shared is a shade tree gained.

Amanda McAlpin works for New West Technologies supporting the Vehicle Technologies Program at the U.S. Department of Energy.