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Current Research

Residential Gardens for Biodiversity and ResilienceGardening along the street in residential neighborhoods

Eleven percent of all Ann Arbor residences have installed a garden in their easement area, the publically-owned but privately managed strip of land between the curb and sidewalk. Most often, E-gardens occur in small clusters suggesting that neighbors are influencing each other.


Impact of Vegetation on Household Energy CostsImpact of Vegetation on Household Energy Costs

Everyone knows that the shade of a tree helps cool the house on a hot summer day. The potential of street trees, yard trees, and shrubs to shade a home and cut energy costs is being evaluated for 225 residential properties in Ann Arbor. For each property, records of monthly energy use (gas and electric) were obtained with homeowner permission. The results of ongoing analysis will be used to develop recommendations about strategic placement of residential plantings to save money, save energy, and support other ecologically positive results.

Recent Research

Street trees: in support of the urban forestStreet trees: in support of the urban forest

The people of southeastern Michigan experienced extensive street tree loss when Emerald Ash Borer populations exploded. In Ann Arbor, more than 10,000 street trees were lost. This study evaluated the impact of residential street tree loss on people’s sense of well being and their motivation toward stewardship.


Residential Gardens for Biodiversity and ResilienceResidential Gardens for Biodiversity and Resilience

The growth of cities and climate change has an impact on the presence and resilience of nature in the city. Private and public gardens offer a place to support urban nature in the face of these challenges. Gardens also offer the chance for personal expression and improved well being. I developed strategy that applies ecological principles to garden design to improve resilience of urban nature. Left panel insert, Artist: Michael Yun        

Highway habitat restoration with native plantsHighway habitat restoration with native plants

The use of appropriately selected native plantings along highway roadsides can beautify and support environmental health by cleaning stormwater runoff and providing resources for wildlife. This strategy requires that the right plants be installed. This study searched for generalizations about how to choose native plant species that fare well in the harsh, low-management setting of roadsides and highway interchanges. The published report offers guidance to transportation officials and landscape designers considering roadside restoration with native plants.

Designing for Insect ConservationDesigning for Insect Conservation

Urban areas offer spaces that can be dedicated to the support of biodiversity. However, the spaces must be aesthetically pleasing in order to best engage and gain public support. We combine ecological and design principles to provide guidelines for the creation of biodiverse and aesthetically appealing public spaces. The study highlights the dangers of habitat fragmentation and the need to engage the public and design professions alike to consider the needs of insects when providing living and working space for humans. The published report offers a vision for insect conservation and diversity that spans the gap between practice of design and ecological theory.


School of Natural Resources and Environment | University of Michigan