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The Basics of Landscape Design

May 29

A professionally designed landscape can transform a yard into an outdoor room, play space or entertainment area. It can also help to reduce water usage and provide a habitat for wildlife and plants that are beneficial to the environment. While many homeowners have a general idea of what they want, a landscape design professional can pull the whole picture together to create a harmonious and functional design. A good landscape design should be based on sound horticultural principles, aesthetic values, and the ability to function within environmental constraints.

While gardens and landscaping are often considered to be an art form, they are also a science. A landscape designer is trained to understand the underlying processes of plant growth and the effect they have on the surrounding environment. They know how to choose appropriate plants and hardscapes for a specific site, as well as how to install them. A thorough understanding of the physical properties of soil, light, moisture and the effects of climate on plants is essential for a successful landscape.

Creating an ideal garden can be difficult, especially for those who are not familiar with the art of landscape design. Educating yourself on the concepts and principles of landscape design can help you to make wise choices for your own yard, and it may even inspire you to develop your own unique style. It is helpful to list your requirements and collect pictures of your likes and dislikes before your first meeting with a landscape designer, and it is a good idea to have an approximate budget in mind.

The basic elements of a garden include line, form, color and unity. Line is the element that connects and organizes spaces, with forms defining the boundaries of areas such as paths or planting beds. Continuity of lines can add rhythm to the composition, but they should be used sparingly; too much repetition can result in monotony.

Form refers to the shape of a space or hardscape feature, and it can be either geometric (square, rectangle, or circle) or naturalistic (curved or meandering). Plants can have a variety of shapes and branching patterns, from the upright branches of Lombardy poplar trees to the droopy quality of a weeping willow.

Color is a key component of any landscape, and it can be used to create accents and unify areas. Flowers can be combined in warm or cool colors for contrast, and a balance of colors can create a harmonious composition. Unity is achieved by using the same features throughout the landscape, such as plants with a common texture or color, or by repeating the use of a focal point.

The ability to create unity in a landscape is also important, as this makes the garden seem bigger and helps the viewer to find their way around. This is accomplished through a process called articulation, which involves the use of different materials and shapes, spatial organization, focal points and pathways that guide the eye.