Landscapes—regardless of scale—have the ability to reflect both the history and culture of a given space. With a range of both social and health benefits, landscapes not only have visual appeal but also help to connect us with nature.
Landscape architecture focuses on the connection between human interaction and natural surroundings through various landscape design techniques and construction plans. Although not every space can accommodate extensive landscaping, nature still holds a rich and often collective understanding for everyone.
Well-designed landscapes can unify people through various means, such as:
● Revealing shared human values and views of nature based on deep-seated philosophical beliefs.
● Expressing long and intimate relationships between people and their natural environment.
● Reflecting specific techniques of land use that guarantee and sustain biological diversity.
● Acting as a social container and space to reflect deep social values, relationships, emotions, and memories.
The principles of landscape design allow you to create captivating outdoor spaces that incorporate a careful balance of aesthetic techniques and natural elements. When combined properly, these factors can transform any exterior into a harmonious and visually stunning oasis.
Balance refers to the process of ensuring that visual weight is distributed evenly throughout a space. Typically, landscape designers will accomplish this using one of two different methods: symmetry or asymmetry.
Symmetrical balance involves creating a mirrored image that branches out from the middle on either side. Asymmetry, on the other hand, focuses on creating a balance between various elements, such as size, colour, and texture.
A landscape design won’t have the visual impact that you’re hoping for without some level of cohesion. Unity amongst the different elements not only ensures the space has a sense of harmony but also gives it an elevated visual appeal. Experts use repeated colours, shapes, and textures to help blend the entire design.
An important aspect of landscape design that should not be overlooked is proportion. The scale (or size) of various elements about one another or the space as a whole can affect how we view things as one piece. In addition to the elements’ relationship to each other, you also want to consider how they will relate proportionally to the people in it and the surrounding environment.
In landscape design, plant texture refers to the perceived surface quality of a plant part in comparison to others. Typically, these are placed into one of three categories: coarse, medium, or fine.
Using a combination of different plant textures helps avoid monotony within the landscape design, while also drawing attention to specific elements. When effectively spaced out, textural contrasts can be mesmerizing, heightening the overall visual appeal.
Colour has the power to create mood, contrast, harmony, and interest in a landscape’s design. When selecting a colour scheme, it’s beneficial to consider your personal style choices, as well as the functional purpose behind the landscaping. Using a colour wheel or a palette generator can help a professional landscaping designer find complementary, analogous, or monochromatic colours that will offer the necessary visual impact.
Plants and trees are two of the most obvious elements in landscaping. They help shape the overall design and can enhance the other features within an outdoor area. Ranging from high-maintenance to low-maintenance, choosing the right plants for a given space is crucial for increasing the longevity of your landscape design.
To select suitable plants and trees for your project, consider the following steps:
Before actually breaking ground on a new landscaping project, it’s important to plan ahead. Knowing the purpose behind a plant or tree can help you during the selection process.
Some reasons to consider foliage type include shade, beauty, food, privacy, and habitat. Once you know why you intend to include a specific type of plant or tree, then you can easily start looking for the right ones.
There are many factors to consider when picking the right plant or tree for your outdoor space. Not only do you need to think about the landscape design, but also the type of environment you are working with. Three key factors to keep in mind when selecting your plant or tree are sun exposure, location, and moisture.
Ultimately, finding suitable plants for your landscape design and placing them strategically within the outdoor space helps create a better sense of harmony throughout.
Hardscaping refers to brickwork, pathways, or walkways that are incorporated into a landscape’s design. Similar to the plant-selection process, the choice of materials for your hardscape will depend on several factors including budget, design theme, and environmental surroundings.
Choosing the correct hardscape can be made easier by defining the spaces within the landscape where you intend to install it. For example, the materials for an entryway may vary from those used to create a walkway or seating area.
Although hardscapes are not an essential aspect of landscape design, they can offer an additional element that enhances the overall aesthetic appeal and functionality of the space. A well-designed hardscape not only provides a practical means of traversing through an outdoor area but also serves as an important design element.
The benefits of installing a hardscape in your landscape design include:
● Creating a focal point within the landscape design
● Providing a designated route for foot traffic
● Customization to suit the overall theme and style of the landscape design
● Producing a sense of rhythm and flow within the landscape
● Offering an opportunity to incorporate additional elements into the landscape design
The choice of water feature is typically determined by a few different factors, such as available space and its intended contribution within the space. When looking to include a water feature in your landscape design, it’s important to consider how it will blend in with the rest of the elements. Creating harmony throughout is essential for maintaining impactful visual appeal.
Location is also important to think about, such as whether the water feature is going to be a focal point or intended to fade into the background. Proximity to other elements within the landscape design—like seating areas or shrubbery—will influence how it adds to the overall space.
Some water feature options to consider are:
● Naturalistic pieces
● Architectural additions
● Stand-alone structures
● Pools and spas
Landscaping doesn’t have to only benefit the visual appeal of your outdoor space. During the design process, you can find unique ways to build sustainable elements that help improve your environmental impact.
One example is rainwater harvesting, which is the practice of strategically collecting rainwater in order to repurpose it later. This can involve installing a rain barrel or cistern to catch and store rainwater to use later. It could also mean slowing and redirecting rainwater to a greenspace where it will infiltrate the soil and be stored for immediate use by plants.
Effectively implementing strategies like this into your landscape design will not only help the nearby environment but also reduce the likelihood of other issues such as overwatering. This contributes to your landscape’s growth and to water conservation efforts, too.
The extent to which you can apply sustainable methods depends greatly on factors like soil type, soil health, climate, sun exposure, slope, budget, and ability to regularly maintain the space.
Designing a rainwater system for your outdoor space can help better facilitate infiltration and evapotranspiration, as well as offer natural pollutant filtering. By redirecting or repurposing rainwater strategically, deep-rooted native plants (such as perennials, shrubs, sedges, and ornamental grasses) can thrive longer. Providing increased water penetration for plant roots ensures they will grow more effectively without requiring additional manual maintenance.
When designing a new landscape, it’s crucial to develop a well-conceived plan that includes keen observations about the native plants that are already thriving in the space, existing soil conditions, drainage sources, weather conditions, and changes to climate over time. These factors will inform you about the specific needs of your plants and trees, ensuring the correct systems are put in place.
Designing a sustainable, aesthetically appealing landscape is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to landscaping. Once the groundwork has been laid, it’s important to practice regular maintenance on the space in order to upkeep the appearance of your plants and trees.
Consider these tips for ensuring a long-term functional landscape design:
Establishing exactly how you want your landscape design to look and feel makes it easier to maintain that image over time. Whether you’re looking to create as much shade as possible for the space, or maintaining a clean-cut, colourful landscape, it’s important to have a goal in mind.
Landscape design often starts with young plants and trees that will eventually grow into maturity under regular conditions. Envisioning what the space will look like over time helps make it easier to develop a long-term plan for maintaining the design and making adjustments as needed.
Weather and changing conditions are both important factors to consider when developing a long-term plan for maintenance. One solution for extending the life of your landscape design is incorporating a good balance of plants and trees that can adapt to diverse conditions.
There’s no way around it: maintaining an outdoor landscape is the only way to guarantee your vision continues to grow and remain healthy. Neglecting to trim certain plants or trees could affect the growth of other nearby plant life, while grass or other shrubs may die if not properly looked after. This could result in additional costs involved in replanting.
Landscaping has the power to rebuild a sustainable relationship between humans and nature by interlacing the two worlds. Combining functionality and aesthetic design with sustainability allows you to transform an outdoor space into an environmentally friendly oasis.