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Across the South, we’ve seen a growing trend of sustainably driven communities that are nature-centric and created to both embrace their surrounding landscape and cultivate unique experiences for their residents. The homes themselves are developed with nature in mind, blending into their specific region, while highlighting the natural beauty around them. The communities provide special experiences and camaraderie between residents, making them appealing especially to those looking for second home locations or to adventure-seekers. These six Southern developments are environmentally focused with an emphasis on connection to both nature and their residents.

Splinter Creek


Designed by a set of collaborators, including New York’s Lang Architecture and Texas’ Lake Flato, Splinter Creek was created by Ellen and Eason Leake as a development that would be a model of environmentally sensitive building. Along with their daughters Elizabeth Keckler and Blaire Wunderlich, the team designed and built the project encroaching as little as possible on the natural landscape.

Twenty-six spacious lakeside homesites are found on the 650 acres of Splinter Creek. Within that expansive property, over 400 acres are set aside as common areas where the land remains untouched. This set-aside area gives residents and visitors the opportunity to bike, hike, boat, fish and explore this serene land that is mere miles from Oxford, Mississippi.

Residents of Splinter Creek have the opportunity to build a home of their own design or to choose from one of Splinter Creek’s concept homes, which are specifically designed to complement the natural landscape. These styles include wood siding, invite natural light and have simple finishes that won’t compete with the surrounding natural beauty. Starting at $850K, each home is custom-crafted for the buyer, with additional high-end offerings and upgrades available from regional artisans.

The homes at Splinter Creek provide a beautiful nature-centric experience with luxury accommodations.

At Splinter Creek, home and nature blend seamlessly.

Balsam Mountain Preserve

North Carolina

Less than 40 minutes from Asheville, Balsam Mountain Preserve is one of the largest untouched expanses of land in the South. For nearly a century, the land was held for timber and mining interests. Today, Balsam Mountain Preserve offers a livable, family-friendly community with homes that are inspired by the stunning natural surroundings.

“Balsam Mountain Preserve is totally unique in the South: an authentic conservation-oriented community whose ultra-low-density land plan, extensive acreage in conservation easement, funding of a non-profit Trust to protect wildlife and flora and activities programming are all evidence of its ethos and deliver on its promise,” says Joe Dellinger, Chief Operating Officer of Balsam Mountain Preserve.

Inspired by nature’s colors, shapes and textures, the homes minimize their impact on the land and offer tremendous privacy, making them feel like a true escape. Homeowners can enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, tennis, the fitness area and more, and the culinary program is inventive and fresh, serving light farm-to-table dishes that change on a weekly basis, dependent on local availability.

Breathtaking views and colors abound at Balsam Mountain Preserve!

Homes are purposefully built at Balsam Mountain Preserve, designed to let the homes mingle seamlessly with nature.

Homes are purposefully built at Balsam Mountain Preserve, designed to let the homes mingle seamlessly with nature. Image: Balsam Mountain Preserve

Spring Island

South Carolina

Near the quaint town of Beaufort, South Carolina, Spring Island is a 3,200-acre nature preserve and residential community. In 1990, three couples purchased the island and set out to develop the area while maintaining its natural state. In that time, they developed the non-profit Spring Island Trust, whose mission is the “protection and management of the Island’s natural environment, ongoing documentation of its history and promotion of its availability as an inspiration for the arts.” Today, Spring Island has a permit for a maximum of 500 homes on its property and offers its residents both nature- and art-inspired amenities.

The environmentally friendly community is designed to have three neighborhoods with remaining land for larger family homes. With nature as the central focus, landscape designer Robert Marvin developed a “Nature Curtain” that shields all homes from the main roads, also providing privacy for their residents.

Experiences like horseback riding, golfing, fishing, hunting and more offer the chance for residents and visitors alike to connect with nature. In addition, the development has a strong focus on the arts. Most recently, a new state-of-the-art art facility was approved, underscoring the importance of art-based initiatives on Spring Island — artist-in-residence programs, as well as bi-annual art shows are some of the unique offerings available there.

RELATED: A Whole New Meaning to ‘I Grew Up on the Farm’: A Peek Into Tennessee’s Modern-Day Commune

Plein air painting opportunities abound on beautiful Spring Island.

Bundoran Farm


Bundoran Farm is 15 minutes outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. The 2,300-acre conservation-based community is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you’ll find many beautiful homesites, farmhouses and move-in-ready showhouses. This community offers stunning views and a serene setting, with its 1,100 acres of cattle pastures, as well as managed forest and apple orchards. A working farm, Bundoran Farm is a unique community that also offers 15 miles of biking and hiking trails and two private lakes for kayaking and fishing.

The homes of Bundoran Farm are specifically designed to maintain the countryside feel of the farm and also provide plenty of privacy. The meticulous construction is a direct reflection of the mission: to combine sustainability and luxury. Residents of Bundoran Farm can also enjoy Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard, one of Virginia’s most beloved wineries.

Mornings at Bundoran Farm are especially serene and awe-inspiring.



Serenbe is an urban community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, that focuses on four pillars that contribute to a well-lived life: “Arts for inspiration, agriculture for nourishment, health for wellbeing and education for awareness,” per their website. In Chattahoochee Hill Country, Serenbe was initially conceived from a desire to protect and preserve this area, the basis being that people live most fully when connected with nature.

Currently, over 650 residents call Serenbe home. This wellbeing-focused community is home to gourmet restaurants, art galleries, horse stables, farmers’ markets and more. Paths forged throughout the property make walking more accessible than driving, thus encouraging wellness in daily activity. The Serenbe Playhouse is well-known for its workshops, plays, productions and more.

In addition to homeownership within Serenbe, visitors have the chance to stay at the Serenbe Inn for a taste of the unique community. They can spend a night — or several — taking in the easygoing atmosphere, enjoying top-notch dinners at the restaurants on the property and exploring the shops, yoga studio, pools, galleries and more.

All of the amenities and experiences of Serenbe contribute to their overarching purpose to reflect a simpler time, a time with less stress, more time spent outside in the fresh air and especially connection with our neighbors and those around us.

The Serenbe community in Georgia conjures memories of a simpler time — when people spent more time outdoors and connecting with their neighbors.

The Serenbe community in Georgia conjures memories of a simpler time — when people spent more time outdoors and connecting with their neighbors.

Você Nashville


Located just south of Music City, Você Nashville is a neighborhood built on the land once inhabited by country legend Eddy Arnold. Intended to embrace the beauty of its landscape, the community features high-end homes that showcase luxury living in a well-preserved setting. Located on 61 acres, Você is being developed by Eddy Arnold’s grandson, Shannon Pollard, who underscores the importance of saving trees as well as preserving the general topography. “From an architectural standpoint, we’re building homes that have usable space rather than building McMansions,” he says. “We fit the home sites into the trees. That requires creativity. It requires different types of foundation systems. It’s all to save the trees. What you have is a brand new home that’s up against a 50-year-old tree, a 70-year-old tree. You really don’t see that in new neighborhoods. That’s the hallmark of what we’re doing.”

Você is currently in its final stages of development.

RELATED: Development Done Right: How Você Nashville Both Evolves and Preserves

No two homes are alike, yet each gives a subtle nod to Eddy's love of nature and the importance of preserving the land.

At Você Nashville, no two homes are alike, yet each gives a subtle nod to nature and the importance of preserving the land. Image: Garett Buell of Studiobuell

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