Your Sustainable Home

By understanding patterns, looking at resources as renewable systems and utilizing natural zones around the home, we become more sustainable.


Creating a “sense of place” is important in creating “a place called home.” A sense of place comes from the passion you and your family share about where you live and the choices you make around your special place. You have a powerful role in creating positive outcomes by identifying and incorporating influences that shape your ‘home-scape.’ This takes careful observation, planning and design, all of which can be demanding. Seemingly simple decisions without understanding the ‘whole package’ can be costly and regrettable. Please check out Early & Expensive Goofs.


Your “sense of place” is important.

It’s your home!

Early & Expensive Goofs or Why I Became a Designer

Long before the personal interest in Resilient Landscape Planning & Design blossomed, I found myself making important decisions at the advice from a well-intentioned friend. Once such decision involved locating the driveway. Because the driveway was already 1/2 complete, I just continued it to our house site. Unfortunately, I failed to consider the expense factors:

The “irony of quick decisions” has cost us a lot. With some serious thought our 400+ ft driveway could have been designed to be under 100’ in length. Making this happen would be incredibly expensive.
The “irony of simple decisions” has cost us a lot. With some serious thought our 400+ ft driveway could have been designed to be under 100’ in length. Correcting this would be incredibly expensive

  1. Winter maintenance – snow removal
  2. Long-term care and upkeep from wear and tear, robust rain events, etc.

Here’s what that has cost over the last 10 years.

  • Snow removal: $400/year x 15 years = $6000
  • Surface upkeep: $1500/5 years x 3 = $4500
  • Loss of prime food production areas: $400 x 15 years = $6000

TOTAL: $16,500

A well-designed, shorter driveway with less slope, easier access

  • Snow removal $200/year x 15 year = $3000
  • Surface upkeep $500/5 years x 3 = $1500

TOTAL: $4500

Discover how Resilient Landscape Planning & Design approach can make a big difference not only monetarily, but in resilient use of your landscape.

Planning & design require looking at multiple site analyses. Otherwise, important considerations can be overlooked.

Family Needs and Interests

Having place to play, developing “food-scape” and embracing ways to enhance aesthetics making your home a special place – like no other.

We spend almost all of our free time outside, mostly playing in the gardens.
Our south-east facing slope offers, a prime growing, season.

Asking a few smart questions now can pay off big time in the future.


What realistic, sustainable actions do you wish to establish?


What outdoor interests are on your dream list?


How important is home food production to you and your family?


How much time and energy can you dedicate to your home’s landscape?


Should alternative energy system/s (e.g.photovoltaics) be part of your long range planning?

How would you like to optimize your landscape aesthetically and functionally?

Creating Specific, Actionable Goals

All the dreaming in the world will not become reality until you have identified clear, action-centered goals.Two or three actionable goals that include several key outcomes are important. For example, an actionable goal could be growing organic foods using local resources for an extended season. To do this well, you should know more about your land’s Natural Capital.


In establishing goals for your home’s landscape it may be helpful to take a look at how Future Lands Designs can help you identify more specifics. Please take a look at how we have used my Resilient Landscape Planning & Design approach; in understanding our landscape and how we have created the ‘sense of place’ we love.

You know when you have actionable goals when they are accompanied by specific actions.

  • Base Map – which shows major features. Below is a local base map showing my area of interest when we designed our homestead.
  • Site Analysis Map- Conditions and functions are ‘ layered’ on top of a base map. We also use regional maps for things like climate and wildlife

To help you become oriented to some of the maps used to explain my Resilient Landscape Planning & Design approach, look at the Base Map. Please notice that we have added the site analysis icons.

Your Food Security

Interest in gardening has reached a whole new level! When our children were little, raising our own food became a big money saver and a way to engage our family in a great activity. If you are not intrigued with this section, skip it and check out your interests.


Let me share some of our gardening experiences.


When it comes to food production, there are lots of choices in how food can be planted! We have chosen a combination of designs that work well on our steep slopes. For the most part, we like raised beds made with native white cedar using drip irrigation. Advantages include:

  • Not have to bend far to plant, maintain and harvest
  • They can easily be covered and managed with low hoops for season extension
  • We can easily keep plants watered without a lot of fuss.

 To really plan your site, the Resilient Landscape Planning & Design approach makes a huge difference. Limited space will dictate size. Measuring and mapping solar path, soils, water’s movement,slope & elevation, and access and infrastructure. Each play a BIG roles in your success.

Season extension is simple & easy! Add weeks to your growing season.

Aesthetics to Warm the Heart


Having special places for refuge, places to feel secure and comfortable and prospect, natural scenery that calms the mind while raising the spirit, we satisfy an essential need.

Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Modern-day appeal for highly manicured lawns and low maintenance plants comes with a high cost to . Part of the shift for a sustainable future requires a fresh eye for beauty. Consider how areas at your home could become naturally beautified by native plants, rather than the .

Flower gardens create a beautiful destination and a warm sense of place at our home in Bernardston, MA.
Having a ‘view-scape’ available enhances comfort and spiritual solitude.
View-scapes can be small, too!

Being able to appreciate your natural surroundings while feeling protected (refuge) from harsh elements and enhance the comforts of home. A place to sit, a trail to hike, and access to other beautiful places in the neighborhood such as a meadow or pond are the joys of homeownership. Being able to see beauty in rolling hills covered with bright autumn colors, pastoral meadows or a quiet stream all provide solace and comfort.

The Problem with Low Maintenance Landscapes

Be forewarned of a common mistake made by many homeowners when choosing landscape plants. Invasive plants like burning bush, honeysuckle , multiflora rose diminish and weaken valuable native insects, causing a cascade of food deserts for birds and mammals.


Resilient Design  uses a healthier approach to introducing problematic species. By making consistent observation about changes in your landscape, you develop a sense for emerging issues. For example, we were really excited to plant lush, fast growing and low maintenance zebra grass. Although it’s not on the stage invasive list, is began appearing in wild areas and required a backhoe to remove from established ornamental gardens. Luckily we caught this quiet monster in it’s early stages by making observations.

You may want to learn more about invasive plants, their identify and dangers from The Invasive Plant Atlas of New England’s

We often assume that ‘low maintenance gardens’ begin with choosing plants that insects do not like. But their lack of predators enables these quiet aggressors to overtake landscapes. They are known as invasives!
We fell in love with zebra grass, until it began appearing everywhere.

energyEnergy Needs

Improving energy sustainability can be a simple as using your solar path coupled with local vegetative cover to manage winds patterns. Careful placement of trees can retain warmth from cold winter northwest winds and promote effective house shading during hot summer days.


Adding photovoltaics (PV) is a large investment with terrific benefits. Luckily, more and more PV companies, especially the local startup, really want to help you with those decision, especially in determining your return on investment (ROI). Sometimes, installation involves additional considerations; with questions and concerns around wetland identification and regulations. Any major changes in vegetative cover, increasing impervious surfaces from PV, etc., can change water’s movement and local climate. Future Lands Designs may be able to help with this.

Continue reading in the next section Learn From Your Existing Conditions 


Future Lands Designs, LLC., offers the unique Resilient Landscape Planning and Design (RLP&D) approach to recognize the role of Natural Capital (NC) in order to plan for changing conditions as you establish goals on your property.


Natural Capital (NC) includes the interaction of all life as well as climate, weather and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity.