Overall Design Approach
My goal as a designer is to create landscapes that work well, look good, feel comfortable, and help the planet. Since 1987, I have worked on over 450 projects throughout New England. In every landscape, I merge a sensitive analysis of the owner’s wishes with a thorough assessment of each site’s landform, vegetation and overall character. I take further cues from the ecology, geology, culture and history of the surrounding region to create design solutions that are so well-suited to the property they almost seem inevitable.
I believe the most appealing landscapes are those in which the hand of the designer is virtually invisible. My plans strive for a quiet, uncontrived effect. I incorporate local materials, native plants and natural landforms in arrangements that resemble nature’s own unstudied composition, tailored to satisfy the functional, social, and aesthetic needs of the people who live in and use that place.
I treat every landscape project as an opportunity to contribute to the health of the natural world. In my plans, I work to minimize harm and protect each site’s valuable features while incorporating:
- habitat that supports local wildlife
- vegetation that requires minimal maintenance
- drainage patterns that encourage percolation rather than runoff
- proper placement of buildings and trees to make the most of solar gain
- well-built components that last a long time, to reduce demand on natural resources.
Each landscape that I design is planned to be a resilient, diverse, self-sustaining and resource-recycling environment that nourishes all its inhabitants, both human and nonhuman.
I believe that every landscape is full of opportunities for us to help solve the problem of climate change. All of my projects are designed in accord with the principles contained in my two books, Energy-Wise Landscape Design (2010) and Climate-Wise Landscaping (pub. date April 2018). These books detail hundreds of actions all of us can take in our gardens and grounds, to save energy, shrink our carbon footprint, create cleaner air and water, and support other species as they adjust to changing conditions and loss of habitat.
“Sue is a true asset to the New England region...both as a landscape design instructor and for her book Energy-Wise Landscape Design, which should be a required text for all landscape and architecture students. Sue’s approach to designing & building sustainable homes and landscapes is based in sound scientific and ecological principles, but she finds a way to present complex subject matter in a way that’s easily understood and absorbed.”