Landscape Design: More Than Just Plants

August 25, 2017

Plants play a very important role in any garden but there is much more to a well-designed garden than just plants. The design of any garden or landscape starts with the structure and hardscape. Landscape design is an art that involves the use of a very wide range of mediums beyond just plants, like: concrete, pavers, natural stone, wood, water, light, and fire (to name a few).

Hardscape design is driven by the uses of the space and arranging the space needed for each element and determining the best flow in-between. The way you use or plan to use the space greatly influences the design.

Bluestone Flagstone Patio and Crushed Stone Pathways and Fire Pit Seating Area

We also take into consideration the evolution of the space. A family with young children will use their new garden very differently now than they will in 10 years. Creating a space that can transition and grow as the needs of the space evolve is important to consider.

Cedar Deck and Dimensional Paver Patio with Gas Fire Pit

Cedar Deck and Dimensional Paver Patio with Gas Fire Pit

Elements that may be included or considered depending on the individual needs to the site and client are: patios, pathways, stairs, decks, retaining walls, screening, pergolas, arbors, water features, fire pits, fencing, shed/outbuildings, outdoor kitchen, pools, spas, and vegetable gardens.  The structure of the garden is like the foundation that sets the stage for the finishing touches like plants and lighting.

Cedar Fencing with McGregor Lake Ledgestone Pillars and Bluestone Flagstone Patio

Here are a few considerations we evaluate when designing the layout of a garden (before we get to the planting design):

  1. Use of the space (fire pit, dining, entertaining, children, pets, etc.)
  2. Need for shelter from rain or sun
  3. Views and screening issues
  4. Feeling of the space- elevated spaces can expand views if privacy is not a concern, while sunken spaces can create a feeling of privacy and seclusion
  5. Grading and drainage. Steep slopes or low spots with drainage problems will need to be factored in and will direct the shape the garden takes. We try to take advantage of existing slopes if possible both to create interesting spaces but be sensitive to the land and the project budget. Drainage in our climate is more often than not a factor that needs to be addressed.
  6. Style and personality. The personal style of the client as well as the architecture of the home will influence the shapes and materials considered for the garden.
  7. Balance of hardscape with dedicated areas for plantings (softscape).
3-D Model of a Tiered Deck

3-D Model of a Tiered Deck

Once the layout of the garden is established plants are used to enhance and help set the mood of the garden.

Plants are the Icing on the Landscape Cake

Plants are the Icing on the Landscape Cake

If you’re thinking of changing the design of your yard, now is a great time to contact us so that you can enjoy your new landscape all summer long next year.

~ Kryssie

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