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Landscape Design

Landscape Design Success In The Landscape Design Process

by Alexis Slafer, ASLA, is LDS Chairman,
March 20, 2020

                               LANDSCAPE DESIGN SUCCESS IN THE LANDSCAPE DEIGN PROCESS

 

Design is as individualistic as the person who does the design. Land­scape design combines the elements of art and science to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing design, often acting as a link or an extension of indoor living to the outdoors. The elements and prin­ciples of design are the means through which a designer evaluates the effectiveness and success of a project. The elements and principles act as the tools and guidelines for developing the de­sign.

One goal of land­scape design is to blend the buildings into the natural sur­roundings. The ele­ments of design (color, line, form, texture, and scale) are never used independently of each other. The elements (unity, balance, transi­tion, focalization, pro­portion, rhythm, rep­etition, and simplicity) are the tools used in combination to adjust the design principles. These principles in­teract to create the intended design. 

First, visualize your design to scale on paper. It is important to think with drawings and sketches so your mistakes are made on paper, not in reality on the landscape site. Remember the adage: “Measure twice, cut once!” The steps in developing a design are cyclical; re-visit the completed steps as you move through the process to insure that the completed design actually adheres to the original design intent or are accurately modified to reflect the changes dictated by the analysis/process and program changes. The steps in developing a landscape design are:

Landscape Bilateral Symmetry

Formal bilateral sysmmetry:  Design is as individualistic as the person who does the design.

Consider balance or imbalance. Imbalance is uncomfortable & not desirable.

• Symmetrical bal­ance (Formal & has bi-lateral symmetry or is identical on each side)

• Asymmetrical bal­ance (Informal & has equal weights on each side, but is not exactly the same)

• Radial balance

(Works in a circular pattern from a center point)

Order and Unity

Order and unity are both emotional and visual reactions to the overall organization of the design elements within the existing site conditions. It is the organization and structure of a design, acting as the basic scheme or “skeleton” of the design. Order could be achieved by symmetrical or asym­metrical balance or by having a formal or natural arrangement.

1. Develop a plot plan

2. Conduct a site analysis

3. Assess client/owner needs and wishes

4. Locate activity areas

5. Design activity areas

6. Design planting (selection & placement of materials)

Landscape Design on Paper
A Design Plan

 

A systematic ap­proach should be taken in landscape design. First, de­termine the objec­tive of your design and then establish the general type of plan, whether it should be formal or natural.

Landscape Natural

 Natural Design: Ad­dressing the Design Requirements; Con­sider landforms—slopes, erosion, flat areas, cliffs.       

Formal Symmetry

Formal garden of the Châ­teau de Villandry. First, determine the objective of your design and then establish the general type of plan, whether it should be formal or natural.

Unity is the harmonious relationship among all the elements and char­acteristics of a design, established by staying simple and minimizing differences. Too many components and mate­rials, and the complex use of elements, create competitiveness and the resulting lack of integra­tion within the design prevents unity.

Address the Design Requirements

1. Plan for structural needs (buildings and their uses)

2. Consider landforms (slopes, erosion, flat areas, cliffs)

3. Determine traffic flow (vehicular, service, pe- destrian, entrance, parking; include transitions and linkages)

Landscape Undere a Canopy

A pri­vate area might be designed for read­ing or meditation next to a hedge or building or in an isolated corner of the landscape under a canopy of trees.

     

Landscape Circular Pathe

 Bottom: A Circu­lation Path: One goal of landscape design is to blend the buildings into the natural sur­roundings. Top: Using the basic principles of landscape de­sign will ensure the creation of a functional and beautiful garden and landscape.       

Private Area

                                                                                                        

4. Consider the public

area (which is differ­ent from the client’s needs), including:

5. Adjacencies to other properties (screening or en- hancing views)

6. Entrance area (including traffic flow, linking the outside

areas to the site)

7. Landscape face to neighbors

8. Comfortable access and “wayfinding” to the entrance

The design should con­sider areas with a feeling of privacy and comfort, as well as provide lim­ited exposure for secu­rity. A private area might be designed for reading or meditation next to a hedge or building or in an isolated corner of the landscape under a canopy of trees.

Radial Symmetry

                                       Radial Deign, Founders Memorial Garden, Athens, Georgia

Natural Bridge
A Natural Design

                                                                                

Traffic Flow   and  Circulation

When designing for traffic flow and circu­lation, each unit on the site should be part of the whole and contribute to the overall circu­lation pattern. Circulation also refers to the movement of peoples’ eyes (towards a focal point) with their bodies following through a specific pattern in the landscape.

Definition & Separation of Areas

A designer should clearly define and separate activity areas once the ideas for their design have been de­termined. Sometimes space between areas or objects acts in this manner, other times a fence or plant materi­als will do the job. Consider a visual screen that can be added without creating an actual physical barrier. Often plant materials can provide an inexpensive screen, adding both color and interest.

Summary

Remember, every designer cre­ates a unique design based on his or her interpretation of the landscape design process. Using the basic prin­ciples of landscape design will ensure the creation of a functional and beautiful garden and landscape. One that can be enjoyed by all.

 

—Alexis Slafer, ASLA, is LDS Chairman,
California Garden Clubs, Inc.; NGC LDS Ac­crediting Chairman; and Contributing author of
Stewards

--Articles and photos reprinted with permission by The National Gardener, Fall 2015


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