Use stone instead of dirt against a retaining wall to aid in drainage.
For home sites, the bottom line is pretty simple: You want soil that has good bearing capacity, exerts relatively low lateral pressure, and drains well, so that you can have a stable, dry foundation. The best natural soils for these purposes are sands and gravels. Silts and clays are fair, but the softest ones are poor. Then there are soils such as peat, expansive clay, and improperly deposited fill, which are so bad that they must usually be removed and replaced - often at considerable cost to you.
Vines provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises, vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house.
Plant windbreaks of trees or shrubs to reduce soil loss from blowing wind and also to provide habitat and shelter for wildlife. Windbreaks reduce the wind around your home and serve as a sight and sound barrier.
The chemicals used in swimming pools can injure plants when the filter is backwashed and the water is dumped in the root zones of plants. The foliage will turn brown as the plants die from repeated doses of the chemicals.
Pruning ground covers is usually necessary only to remove unhealthy tissue or awkward or straggling branches, or to keep a plant from becoming too invasive. Vigorous ground covers include honeysuckle, goutweed, snow-in-summer, wintercreeper and English ivy. Certain plants--such as honeysuckle, pachysandra, euonymus and English ivy--should be mowed or cut back to 5 to 6 inches in height every year or two to keep the beds vigorous, neat and more pest free. Be sure to use sharp cutting equipment.
Consider your finish grade around the house as part of the building process to ensure water is properly diverted away from your foundation.