The Design Process
The design process is a crucial part of successfully creating an aesthetic, functional, and environmentally sustainable residential landscape. It consists of five steps – 1) conducting a site inventory and analysis, 2) determining your needs, 3) creating functional diagrams, 4) developing conceptual design plans, and 5) drawing a final design plan. Throughout this process, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:
Understand Your Site
A thorough inventory and analysis of the site will help you determine how to make the best use of your site. Particularly important factors such as soil type, topography, and regional climate. Using plants that will thrive in the existing soil will keep costs to a minimum and ensure that the landscape is easy to maintain, according to NBG Landscapes. When considering the topography of the site, be sure that the design routes water away from the home and into other areas of the yard. To ensure the survival of the plants you select, take note of your region’s average high and low temperatures. You should also consider the sun and shade patterns that fall on the site throughout the year. When drawing out a site inventory map, be sure to include existing structures, such as utility lines, septic tanks, underground utilities, roof overhangs, and hardscaping, such as patios, driveways, and sidewalks.
Remember the User
When landscaping for your home, it’s important to consider what you want and need in the space. Ask yourself the following questions: How do I currently use my yard? How do I want to use my yard? How do I want my yard to look aesthetically? In all honesty, how much time and effort do I want to spend maintaining my yard? What is my budget? Be realistic about your intentions and ability and be sure to consider the ongoing maintenance costs involved.
Use a Form or Style Theme
Before selecting a theme, look at the area surrounding your property and decide whether you want to open or close your yard to these views. Once you have decided whether you want to enclose the space around your home or open the space up to surrounding views, you’ll have a good starting point for a theme. There are two types of themes to consider – form theme and style theme.
Form theme is the organization, shape, and layout of the spaces in the yard and links between them. Form themes can range from geometric to naturalistic and can even encompass both geometric and naturalistic elements. Style themes are related to the aesthetics of the design. Most style themes tie into the structure they surround, echoing the architecture, materials, or color. French, Spanish, Italian, and Middle Eastern formal architectural and garden styles and less formal Asian, English, and American styles can be used for inspiration. Your planting plan may also inform your style theme, especially if you plan on including tropical, desert, meadow, woodland, or coastal plantings.
Create and Link Spaces
A yard is generally made up of three types of space – public (the front yard), private (the backyard), and service (typically the side yard). It’s important to think about how much space and money you want to allow each area and how to optimize pedestrian circulation between each area. When designing your backyard, think about creating spaces as if you are building and designing outdoor rooms. You can use plant beds, sod areas, trees, planters, garden walls, arbors, level changes, and paved spaces to section off different spaces, or “rooms,” ensuring that each space is optimized for its intended use.
Consider the Function of Plants
While the aesthetic appeal of plants is obvious, it’s also important to consider the structural and practical functions plants can serve. Plants can transform the environment by modifying light, temperature, and humidity. They can also be used to control noise levels and odors throughout your yard. Often, plant hedges and low growing plants can become implied barriers, sectioning off different spaces. Plants can also help clean the air, prevent erosion and soil loss, retain moisture in the soil, and return organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
Enjoy the Little Details
Use unique plants, structures, and ornaments to highlight important parts of your garden. Creating focal points from different perspectives will capture the eye and add visual interest to your design. Don’t forget to pay attention to the details! A variety of complementary forms, colors, and textures will create a rich and harmonious space.
Factor in Time
When selecting plants, be sure to consider how quickly each plant grows. You should also think about the eventual size of the mature plant. Plant growth speed will impact your maintenance requirements. Be sure to leave enough space for your plants to grow to avoid overcrowding.
Protect your Resources
Be a good steward of the land by using plants, water, and building materials wisely. Use resource-efficient plants. Cut down water waste. Use environmentally sound hardscaping materials to ensure that your yard has a small environmental footprint. Select plants that live for a while and that do not demand frequent trimming, fertilizing, or watering. When selecting materials, choose environmentally friendly and non-toxic preservatives, stains, paints, and cleaners.
If you’re in the process of drawing up your landscaping design, call us today at (818) 616-8106 for a free estimate!