Does your back yard slope up, away from your house, or does it slope down?
The likelihood that your yard slopes one way or the other … statistically … depends in large part on what region you live in. (Here I’ll be speaking mainly of the US, but the principle applies broadly.) If you live in New England, your yard is more likely to slope up. If you live in the Midwest/Plains, your yard is more likely to slope down
This is because in New England, we humans build our settlements around rocks. Because there are rocks. (If you don’t believe me, note that all the famous rock farms are in New England.) You get a big aircraft carrier size rock, you build your streets around its base, the houses face the streets, and the yards travel up the rock in the back.
In the glaciated Upper Midwest, we build our settlements around swamps and ponds, again, because there are a lot of them. They don’t call Minnesota the “Land of Lakes” for its rocks! In fact, rocks are so hard to find around here that when people do find them, they put them out in their front yards like sculptures.
So, you build your road on the high ground, put the houses along the road, and by definition (high vs. low) the yards slope down to the swamp. Which, of course, you fill in with dirt, but it’s still low ground.
This is why dogs in New England are less hyper than dogs in the midwest. When all the yards slope down, even tall fences do not cover the view from the back windows to all the neighbor’s yards, and thus, all the neighbor’s squirrels and all the neighbor’s dogs. But in New England, what with the rocks and all, the view from a person’s yard may consist mainly of the person’s yard and not so much the neighbor’s yards. So, in the Midwest, a dog may have an acre or more of wooded parkland squirrel habitat to look at, while in New England, maybe one squirrel, maybe none. (And, removing the squirrels in New England has a better chance of working long term as well.)
Obviously, this will vary a lot. What I’ve just said applies more to suburbs than to urbs (though not entirely). In South Minneapolis, for instance, the swamps are all parks. Really. Go look at any park in South Minneapolis and you’ll see that it’s a major low spot. If it is big enough, there will be a lake down there, if not, just a filled in swamp. The local geology dictates that the yards are mostly flat (and that, therefore, the airport is nearby!) and that the main thing you see in your yard is your garage and the alley. So, South Minneapolis yards are more like New England yards than one might expect. And, in New England, if your yard backs on a stream, obviously, you have a low area, but you don’t get the above described view, because the stream will be accompanied by an edaphic woodland riverine forest. People who live in those houses have very nervous dogs, because … of the raccoons.
This relationship between landscape and lifestyle is fairly trivial, but there are a thousand (well, OK, dozens) of ways in which regional geology and physical geography shape your life, and they can add up. These aspects of the land add to cultural feature of a region to form a palpable gestalt.
Look around you. How is your cultural landscape shaped by bedrock, sediments, drainage patterns, and patterns of natural vegetation?