The Systematic Approach To Landscape Design

The following steps appear logical in developing a creative solution to any landscape design. Obviously, there is no guarantee that following them will automatically produce successful results. However, soundness of judgment in making the analysis combined with sensitivity developed through perception, experience, and well-tuned intuitive skills will help the designer arrive at solutions that are aesthetically pleasing, that are easy to maintain, that function well, and that economically satisfy the needs of the client.

Step 1 – Program Development

This is a written list of the needs, desires, limitations and resources involved in the landscape development of the site. For a park, all the list of major components necessary or desirable should be listed including types of recreational facilities desired, parking considerations, washroom requirements, etc.

For a residential landscape, each family member who may be using the landscape should actively participate in the program development. The number of guests and types of entertaining anticipated should be noted. The program should be carefully analyzed and priorities should be established. Compromises are oftentimes necessary to satisfy all the needs of the family or the limitations of the site. In actual practice, the designer normally spearheads the development of the program. Invariably, most homeowners want a Landscape Planting Plan that is aesthetically pleasing, that is easy to maintain, that functionally meets their needs, and that is economically within their means.

A good program requires careful study, thought, and a complete understanding of the needs of the client as well as the design opportunities that exist on the site.

Step 2 – Site Analysis

Evaluate the site, diagramming in rough all important physical characteristics such as steep or gentle slopes, natural drainage flows, vegetation (condition, type, size, age etc.), existing structures, utilities, legal aspects, soil (type, depth, fertility, etc.).

Remember that a site does not stand alone but is part of a greater environment. Should all or a portion of that environment influence your design, indicate such on the analysis. Analysis includes evaluation of on-site factors (house and lot) as well as off-site factors (neighboring properties, distant views, etc.).

Above and below ground utilities and features should be recorded in rough form.

Photograph the site in its entirety.

Translate the site analysis information at an appropriate scale "onto the board".

Step 3 – Arrangement Analysis

Working directly over the site analysis and diagrammatically using block or circular forms, arrange the major elements on the site in a logical relationship. If you cannot visualize the logical relations among the several elements, try developing a graphic representation of relationships without regard for the site and then adapt this information to the site.

Step 4 – Development

Design each major component keeping in mind its spatial relationship to the other elements.

Develop and refine all the phases of the problem simultaneously using plantings, structures and paving as necessary to strengthen the total design.

The basic principles and elements of design are creatively used within each individual space. The designer should address the needs of the client by capitalizing on the unique opportunities that exist on each and every site.

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