Whether plotting a new home and landscaping or remodeling what you already have, the environment in mind is extremely important. Although energy efficient roofing, siding and heat/cooling systems are vital, the existing ecology should still be remembered.  Winter is a great time to think about your yard and what changes you might want to make when the weather warms up.  Here are some ideas to consider.

Trees:   Instead of completely clearing the lot for construction, leave some of the existing trees in place. By working the house into the natural environment instead of creating a new one, you’ll be able to achieve a well settled feel right away.  If your yard is a little short on trees, consider planting some that will grow quickly to provide both a wind break and shade.    Shade trees can help you save on cooling costs in the summer. Bushes:   Thinking about the future landscaping should also take the existing underbrush into account as well.  Shrubs around the base of your home can help keep wind away as well as retain moisture in the soil. Natural Elements:   The existing natural landscape can provide variety and life to the property. A stream running through the backside of a lot can add beauty and motion to a home while preserving the species that are already present. Common Areas:   Areas with low population density often have little walkways and parks scattered throughout the neighborhood.  Consider adding hardscapes or features to your yard that provide for a sense of community. Water Conservation:   If you have appropriate spots, consider adding a rain garden.  Rain garden plants can help reduce run-off and retain moisture.  Also research native plants and grasses - if you replace areas of your lawn with these plants you'll reduce your upkeep and watering needs.

Although it takes a little more thought to design a home around the environment, the savings in time, energy and cost later will pay for the extra effort in the beginning.