Landscape Design: More Art than Science
By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs
Almost everyone can appreciate a well-designed landscape but chances are that most of them believe that landscape design is merely putting plants in the ground. Truth is, landscape design is so much more than it appears to be. As landscape designers it is our duty to explain to you what exactly landscape design is and what it entails. Landscape design is an art form; it is where nature, culture and vision are combined to transform a property into a functional, creative and beautiful outdoor space.
To put it simply, landscape design is the practice of putting together a plan that best utilizes an outdoor space in the most beautiful way. Designing a property takes time, energy, imagination, creativity and lots and lots of planning. Landscape design is broken down into two categories: softscapes and hardscapes. Softscapes encompasses all of the plant materials used in the landscape whereas hardscaping pertains to the stonework that is implemented into the design (such as rock walls, walkways, patios and more).
There are 4 main principles when it comes to landscape design: proportion, order, repetition and unity. Proportion refers to the size of an object in relation to others in the landscape – this is more commonly used when implementing hardscapes into the design. Orders refer mainly to organization and balance in the landscape; this is very important when designing a space with plant materials. Repetition is used to create a familiar pattern and feel to the landscape – a landscape designer will repeat the use of certain plant materials or elements throughout the design. The last principle is unity; this refers to the flow of the landscape. Landscape designers want to ensure that all materials used in the project work together to create a theme, style or specific atmosphere that best reflects the clients’ personality and vision.
Landscape designers are professionally trained to apply their extensive knowledge of space theory, design principles and the “right plant, right place” concept to best utilize any outdoor space. “Right plant, right place” refers to choosing the correct plant material for the specific site conditions. Soil conditions, amount of sunlight, drainage conditions, wildlife and watering practices are just some of the things that are taken into consideration when selecting the plant material for a project. Landscape designers have an extensive horticultural knowledge base, making them the “go-to” plant experts. Where a plant should be placed, how it should be maintained and how to manage pests and diseases are only a few of the questions professional landscape designers can easily answer.
Aside from the aesthetics and horticultural knowledge – to ensure the functionality of the design, a landscape designer will take into account the spaces that are used, the clients’ lifestyle and the constantly changing needs of the clients’ home. A landscape designer will use their knowledge and ideas to help a client realize factors that they might not have considered previously. Each project is overseen by the designer, from the initial consultation to the completion of the project – they want to ensure that the completed work exceeds expectation and that the clients’ dream landscape has become a reality.
When designing an outdoor space, designers take into consideration the clients’ budget and vision, site conditions, amount of usable space and the use of appropriate plants and other materials. Most people rush straight into the installation and construction phase of an outdoor design, without taking these important factors into account. This leads to a project that costs more than what they wanted to spend, more work than they wanted to do and a project that most likely will provide a less than acceptable end result. This is why hiring a professional designer comes in handy; they take all aspects of the job site into account to design and install a breathtaking one-of-a-kind creation. In a time and cost effective manner, landscape designers can transform an ordinary outdoor area into an extraordinary work of art that can last for many seasons to come.