Developing a master plan will save you time and money, and invariably results in a successful project. A step-by-step method that considers environmental conditions, soil conditions, the clients' needs and desires coupled with the elements and principles of the design is paramount.
A surveyor's plat is an important tool to developing a plan. The plat will define the property boundaries and location of the residence on the property. Patios, driveways, sidewalks etc. are typically shown on a surveyor's plat. Guessing the location of boundaries can be a costly mistake!
The type of soil determines the nutrients and moisture available to the plants. It is very important to consider using plants that will thrive in the existing soil. Although soil can be amended, amendment is often costly and most times ineffective. Existing vegetation, especially native vegetation can provide clues to the soil type.
How do you currently use the property? For example, which entry is used by whom, where do the kids play, and where does the dog usually run? Vehicles are always an important consideration when designing a new landscape.
There are many landscape design themes - from simple to very complex. The design theme will guide your plant and material selection. A theme's direction should be based on three very important factors:
There is no use following a theme, if the theme is not going to be sustainable!
Themes involve a wide range of considerations. From opening up one's yard to appreciate views to closing the yard in order to relate mostly to the house. A landscape should always have "sense of place"...it fits in with its surroundings.
The landscape should be designed in such a way that it is an extension of the home. The landscape should have "rooms." Each room is defined by the activity that will be taking place in that space. There are a number of different innovative design techniques to separate and join the spaces.
Plants organize and define spaces in the landscape. Plants transform the environment for the comfort of the use of a modifying light, temperature and humidity. Plants can also be used to control noise and odor, and provide food for both the homeowner and wildlife. Plants are used as barriers for privacy and safety, as well as preventing erosion, soil loss, retaining moisture and retaining organic matter in the soil. Size, form and texture (density) are the three dominant characteristics that determine how a plant can be used to make a more pleasant microclimate and create a more functional, organized, energy-efficient yard.
How does the structure of plantings play a role in landscape design?
Plants provide structure in the garden in the same way walls provide structure for buildings. Shrub plantings can act as walls in a space and the branches of trees form a ceiling canopy overhead.
Water features, the ocean, ponds and lakes achieve an effect because of the repetition of water. Many people take pictures of sun sets over the ocean because of the outstanding color of the setting sun and the stark simplicity of the sky and ocean. The rhythm and repetition of sand in sand dunes and deserts is also visually appealing. Even a walkway that curves to the front door of a residence can give a strong feeling of rhythm to a landscape.