Understanding the Basics of Landscape Design

The key to creating a beautiful, elegant landscape is achieving a harmonious balance between the classic simplicity of nature and the modern architectural elegance of your house. This perfect unity between home and garden provides enjoyable living both inside and outside of your residence.

The most basic step in planning any functional and attractive garden design, regardless of how elaborate or how simple it is, is careful consideration to the style of the home, as well as the size of the entire property. With this information, you can decide on an overall landscape design theme and begin to incorporate other essential elements and principles of garden design into your plan.

Defining the Elements of Landscape Design

There is much more to understanding the basics of landscape design than simply selecting an array of plants and positioning them in your yard. First, there are five key elements that, when properly implemented into your design, will create a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor living area.

  • Line – Lines and geometric patterns can facilitate directional movement through the landscape and showcase important aspects of your space.
  • Scale – An array of colors that present a complementary pattern can bring the entire yard together.
  • Scale – It is important to select plants and trees appropriately scaled to the rest of the landscape surroundings.
  • Texture – The various textures of leaves, stems, and petals add more detail to your garden design.
  • Form – The form and physical attributes of the plant life within the design generates natural patterns that provide appeal and style to your outdoor space.

The Seven Principles of Landscape Design

The principles of landscape design are the basic concepts used to implement the elements of garden design mentioned above.

  • Unity – Creating unity throughout your outdoor living area, as well as the inside of your home, is one of the most important aspects of a custom landscape design with a professional appearance.
  • Repetition – Repetition and rhythm are generated through the use of color and texture, creating simple patterns in nature that bring a sense of relaxation and tranquility into your outdoor design.
  • Focalization – Lines, shapes, and forms are used to build points of focalization and to direct attention to central focal points in the landscape.
  • Balance – Balance and symmetry work with these other design principles to create a uniform appearance that invites pleasure and pleases the senses.
  • Transition – The transition and flow of the design and each of its components is equally important.
  • Proportion – Proportion, closely related to scale, is also one of the basics of landscape design that require special attention.

The Importance of Planning

Each of the aspects of landscape design mentioned above play a significant role in garden planning, but attention must also be placed on several other aspects of design for a truly functional outdoor space that blends elegantly with the design of your home.

Planning living areas, planting beds, and other elements of your design is much easier with the assistance of a plot plan. You will also want to analyze the soil contents and drainage abilities of your yard to determine the best positioning for your plants, as well as the most appropriate types of plants for your local area and climate.

While the basics of landscape design are simple and straightforward, combining these essential elements and principles into the ideal garden plan is not always that easy. Many homeowners rely on the experience of a professional landscape design firm to make the most of their outdoor living space.

Landscape Design Ideas For Unique Terrains

Not all landscape design ideas are suited for every type of yard. In fact, some yards will require a great deal of planning and adjusting to get just the right look from a landscape design. Whether you’re working with limited space or difficult grades, there are a variety of landscaping tips and ideas that can help you make the most of your outdoor space.

Garden Wall Design

Walls can be used for privacy, protection, seating, or simply for beauty. Varying heights, depending on the wall’s purpose, and angles or curves to suit your garden style make these hardscape features a great addition to any type of landscape design. Bricks, stones, or other materials that complement the rest of your outdoor space is a great way to blend your landscape with your home.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are a unique type of garden wall, designed to offset slopes and enhance curb appeal. Like most hardscape designs, planning and constructing a retaining wall requires special attention to accuracy. Drainage, erosion, and other issues must be addressed as well. Landscape designers can typically create and build a retaining wall that works well with your yard.

Landscape Design for Slopes and Grades

Retaining walls are just one technique for landscaping hillside garden areas. Slopes and grades can become beautiful parts of your outdoor space with the right landscaping. Appropriate drainage and irrigation systems are recommended to maintain all of the following ideas for hillside landscaping:

  • Rock gardens
  • Functional decks
  • Wild flower gardens
  • Natural areas with unique ground covers.

Landscape Design Ideas for Terraces

From secluded sitting areas near the master suite to expansive patios for entertaining, garden terraces are beautiful landscaping techniques that create harmony between your outdoor and indoor living space. Use patterns, colors, and materials that complement your overall design. You can add more functionality to your terrace and patio by integrating covered areas, railing, and other custom touches.

Landscape Design Tips for Small Yards

Limited outdoor space does not mean you are limited with design ideas. Small yards have become quite common and there are plenty of ways to create a beautiful garden with a tiny amount of space.

  • Integrate proportionate outdoor accessories. A large garden pond, for instance, would overpower a small yard and leave little room for living.
  • Plant small trees, including fruit trees and ornamentals, rather than large shade trees.
  • Choose colors that make your yard appear larger.
  • Certain textures can create a feeling of openness as well.
  • Opt for slender fencing that adds to the open feeling.
  • Plants that grow vertically, like vines and climbers, can also add more dimension to a small yard.

No matter what obstacles you may face because of the natural characteristics of your yard, a beautiful outdoor space is never impossible. A landscape contractor can ensure a design that complements your home and reflects your personal tastes, but there are a number of simple landscape design ideas that you can create on your own.

California Landscape Design – Mediterranean Lifestyle on the Pacific West Coast

The Father of California Landscape Designs

Today’s elaborate and stylish high-end landscape designs first appeared in affluent areas of Southern California at the beginning of the 1930’s. An educated landscape architect with experience in the popular garden styles of Europe in this era, Thomas Church, began a landscape design firm in downtown San Francisco and quickly became a household name in Southern California outdoor planning.

During his 45 year career in California landscape design, Church created more than 2,000 custom garden designs in some of the most prosperous areas and developments of Orange County, Los Angeles, and Riverside, all during the prime of modern architectural development. These functional, yet beautiful, outdoor living spaces resulted in a trend that is still growing in popularity across the nation of extending the living space of a home into the openness of nature.

The Many Faces of this Unique Design Style

The homes of Southern California are some of the most remarkable structures in the world and represent a variety of unique architectural styles. California landscape designs complement these fine homes with carefully selected plants, materials, and accessories to create a central theme that blends outdoor charm with sophisticated style for a magnificent outdoor living area.

While most of the various landscape designs seen across Southern California possess a rustic, Old World appearance, there are also classy, formal garden styles that reflect a more contemporary atmosphere. The influence of the European Mediterranean can also be seen in many California garden styles.

With so many different garden styles and influences seen in the landscape designs of of this area, there is one common thread among them all. Each and every California landscape design is carefully planned to reflect the relaxed, natural lifestyle of the warm Mediterranean coast while complementing the style of the most lavish homes.

These Mediterranean styled designs are simple, but sophisticated, functional, as well as ornate, and these outdoor living spaces are truly designed for outdoor living.

Elements of a California style garden may include:

  • Natural accessories, like unfinished furniture or terra cotta planters
  • Colorful cushions, patio ware, lighting, and flower pots, with bright, vivid colors
  • Simple materials, like bark, gravel, and stone, accent water features and create walkways

Because of the wonderful diversity throughout Southern California, the landscape designs are also unique but they are all carefully planned to make outdoor living at home convenient, relaxing, and a beautiful part of your residence. With so many different garden styles to choose from, it is often best to employ the services of an experienced California landscape design firm.