How to lay out a comprehensive landscape design plan.
Creating a comprehensive plan for your outdoor living space will allow you to address your landscape as a whole unified design. A comprehensive landscape design may help you avoid future problems and expensive fixes because you neglected to consider some aspect of your space that needed to be addressed.
The major elements to be addressed in a comprehensive landscape design:
- Structural elements such as fences, walls, decks, patios and walkways
- Slope, grade, water zones, sun exposure, views, proximity of other homes
- Plants, gardens, trees and shrubs, and water features.
Your choice of design style should reflect your lifestyle and be an extension of your interior space.
Clipped hedge rows and rose gardens, topiary and straight lines of trees would be common in the formal landscape. Plantings are contained in beds that are often slightly raised and edged in some form of stone or brick that is cut square. Sculptured fountains and patterned concrete or stone for walkways might be selected.
Wild and Natural Landscape
Trees and shrubs would be mixed together with under-plantings of ground cover. The beds in a natural landscape would undulate around the edges and include boulders, rocks and natural mulch. The water features would include stream beds and ponds. Walkways would likely be wood chip or random flagstone with plantings among them. Decking would be stained in natural colors.
Asian style landscapes often embrace both formal and natural elements. The key to an Asian style is to make sure there are meditative areas around the landscape where one can sit and enjoy nature. A Koi pond with water plants and seating area would be appropriate for an Asian garden. Select Bonsai plants and tall grasses, Weeping Mulberry and small trees that grow in open branching style with flowers in the spring such as Eastern Redbud. Japanese Maple and Weeping Cherry are also good selections for Asian landscapes.
Modern landscapes would be characterized by more structural elements such as concrete walkways and walls with reflecting pools and water cascading over smooth polished vertical marble slabs. Planting beds would be delineated and raised and have plants that are not particularly messy. Material used in the landscape might be glass block, steel, white Portland cement and marble sculptures.
Casual and Family Oriented Landscape
If you have children and like to spend time playing in the yard and barbecuing with neighbors then you will want to consider large grassy areas and shade trees. Surrounding plantings will likely be more informal with a friendly inviting feel. Edging may be done with landscape timbers and woodchip mulch. A vegetable garden may be placed in a corner of the yard for a family project.
English Country Landscape
This would include lots of cottage gardens land brick or cobble walkways with undulating perimeter plantings. The look is natural and colorful with a wide variety of plants and even some herbs and vegetables. Your cottage garden style will have color all year round with various plants blooming at various times. Your structural elements might include a sunroom and a potting shed. You will want to be sure to include bird baths and feeders.
Laying Out Your Property
Measure and draw your landscape and place all existing structures and plants on the plan. Indicate with arrows and notes the views indicating any noticeable features you want to block or enhance.
Make notations on the plan of exposure to the sun, slope, water run off areas, dry areas and any other environmental features.
Check with your building code department for easements and setbacks. Call the utilities company and have them come out and mark your property for underground lines and cables. Place these elements on your plan so you know where they are as you lay out your planting designs.
This approach will alert you to any areas that may need special attention and make you aware of issues such as drainage, grading that may need to be changed, irrigation concerns and easements.
Once you have the property laid out in this manner you can begin to build your comprehensive landscape design plan.
Determine Your Usage Zones
Using a tissue paper or tracing paper overlay on the main plan, begin to lay out areas of use. You will block out with large shapes where you want the main landscaping elements to be located. Block out the main entertainment areas, planting areas, lawn, garden, walks, patios, water features and structures.
Try several different layouts that might be out of the ordinary or unexpected. For example you might want to turn your lawn area at an angle to the deck rather than have it square up with the edge.
Once you determine where the main elements are going you may begin to add in the major plants such as trees, shrubs and garden beds. Be sure to indicate the height of the plants you want to use in the various areas. It is not necessary to identify the plant species at this time as you will want to consult with your local nursery on what is available. They can look at your notes and plans and advise you on what would work for the specific spot where you want to place a plant.
If you will be installing a new irrigation system or modifying an old one, now is the time to call in the experts. You will be able to hand them your plans and they can design a system around your needs.
Now, with your plans in hand, you can make a visit to your local nurseries and garden centers. This will give you the advantage of being able to approach your landscape in phases and perhaps take advantage of sales and special deals. Don't hesitate to go in the cold season as this may be your best time to get some great bargains.