Landscape Design – The Art of Creating Spaces That Are Pleasurable to the Eye and That Serve a Purpose
Landscape design is the art of creating spaces that are pleasing to the eye and that serve a specific purpose. These spaces can range from a garden to an entire park or city streetscape. The goal of the designer is to create a place where people can enjoy themselves, relax, and interact with nature.
The profession of landscape architecture has roots in the urban parks movement of the nineteenth century, with its pioneers like Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. Using natural landscapes to stimulate the imagination and encourage social reform were key components of their thinking. They sought to use their knowledge of plants and the natural world as an instrument of social reform and a means to improve human well-being and quality of life.
Unlike most other types of design, landscape design involves an understanding of the natural systems that occur on a site and their effects on the environment. Once these systems are understood, the landscape designer can choose which aspects to encourage, discourage or manipulate to fit the requirements of the client and site.
Understanding the natural systems on a site is critical to designing a natural landscape that will be as successful as possible. This can be done by observing the existing conditions, analyzing the soil and hydrology of a site and obtaining geological maps. If the site has been disturbed, it may be necessary to determine which plant communities would have existed on the site had it not been affected by the disturbance.
Knowing the natural system on a site helps a landscape designer to determine which plants and plants groups are likely to thrive and how these plants will interact with the hardscape elements, such as paths, patios, walls, outdoor rooms, gazebos, and fencing. It also allows a designer to develop a design plan based on the existing native conditions of a site, and it will help the designer make informed decisions about the plantings and the materials for construction.
A designer who understands the natural systems on a site will have the ability to select appropriate plants and plant groups, which will not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the site but will also support the ecosystem and its inhabitants. This knowledge can also be applied to the management of a landscape, where it can help in minimizing maintenance expenses by creating a more natural and adaptive system.
Observing other landscapes, both your own and those in your neighborhood or community, can help you identify your personal style. This will help the designer to better understand your vision and how to work with you to achieve it.
It is also helpful to study the composition of other landscapes, which will give you an idea of how to arrange colors and textures. Form and line are two of the most important aspects of design.
The combination of these elements will create the visual qualities that are most pleasing to the eye. This includes balance, rhythm and harmony. The more positive the visual qualities, the more likely the person viewing the space will be to enjoy it and interact with it.