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Category Archives: Design Principles

Landscape Planting Design, Emmaus, PA

Landscape Planting Design
Landscape Planting Plan, conceptual planting design for landscape project in Emmaus PA

Garden Design Inc. was invited to develop planting plans for the pictured property in Emmaus PA. The home is newly constructed with no existing landscaping. But, it does have outstanding views of the natural landscape vistas beyond the back of the home. The program for this phase of landscaping is divided into four phases. One phase is to provide a beautiful entry planting where the driveway exits the main road. Another priority is to install tree, shrub and perennial plantings along the busy main road. The front of the home plantings invite visitors and soften the architecture. Finally, several planting islands extend visual interest and create a sense of space to the gardens. This is a conceptual planting plan. It allows us to share the design ideas and character without investing the extensive time required to detail each planting choice. This level plan allows us to budget a project. Once a client reviews the ideas and budget, we can then design the specific plant varieties.

All of the gardens are a combination of trees, shrubs and perennials. Trees provide the main vertical architecture. They help scale a property into the surroundings. Trees also provide the middle and taller level layers to the landscape. This design has a combination of evergreen and deciduous trees. The evergreen trees are designed as landscape anchors and strong visual screens. The deciduous trees are mostly small to medium size flowering trees. These create a veil to screen views and provide seasonal interest in flowers and fall leaf color.

Shrubs are the backbones of a planting design. This design uses a combination of evergreen and deciduous flowering shrubs. Larger sizes are used along the roadway and the perimeters. These will tend to be more of the evergreen varieties that flower but not as profusely as others. Small and more ornamental shrubs are used to ward the fronts of the planting beds and nearer to the home.

Perennials, ornamental grasses and ground covers complete the planting design. These are arranged toward the front of the planting beds. The perennials are designed with contrasting textures and bloom seasons. The goal is continuous landscape interests from spring to fall.

The next phase in this project is to review with the client. With their direction, we will complete the planting specifications and a proposal to install the landscape project. For more images of landscape plans see Garden Design Plans on Pinterest or Garden Design Landscape Plans

 

 

Landscape Plantings & Patios – How to Create Balance

The stone walkway and patio break up the dense plantings.
The stone walkway and patio break up the dense plantings.

How do we develop landscape designs that balance landscape plantings and patios? Balance is one of the key design principles in landscape architecture, and without it, design lacks a primary component. A strong sense of balance between hardscape and plant life can truly bring a design together and transform a formerly plain and uninteresting landscape into a beautiful oasis. Designing with vegetation is always a primary focus, but how does hardscape play a factor in balancing design? In short, hardscape breaks up the potential monotony of vegetated plantings. It provides some structure to an organic flow of vegetated spaces. Hardscape can be defined as man-made structures or elements in a design, and in residential landscape design, materials such as brick, concrete, pavers, etc are common forms of hardscape. Hardscape colors, shapes, and patterns leave a designer with a number of design opportunities making it such a popular design element.

Concrete is the most commonly used hardscape, mainly for its versatility. It often comes poured, but it can come in a variety of colors. Brick more often than not, is manufactured as a bright red, and with a majority of planting emitting a contrasting color of green, the red will easily stand out in comparison to most other hardscape materials. While it can be used solely on its own, one interesting look that some residences are trying is using the brick red as an accent color. Designing a concrete walkway with neutral tones mixed with an outer brick edge, can soften the brick but also brighten the neutral concrete.

Other materials, such as flagstone or bluestone and natural stone tend to work well when designing patios. Hardscape can promote the design of patios, creating great outdoor living spaces without the woody appearance of a deck, for example. Stone walls can create enclosures, creating separate spaces within the landscape. Whether the hardscape becomes the home of an eating area for families or a fire pit gathering for a group of friends, the size, shape, and style are completely up to the user.

Taking a look at Techo Bloc, a landscaping supplier, they offer many products that can personalize a landscape. Pavers, walls, and many other forms of masonry are available for purchase. Some of my personal favorite hardscape designs consist of block pavers that are broken up using grass or fine gravel. This breaks up the monotony of a solid, flat hardscape, and it allows the user to notice a change in ground type.

Aside from the hardscape, the plant selection and other softscape materials  play just as important of a role in design. Selecting vegetation and hardscape of a corresponding color scheme is typically a good place to start. Think of vegetation possibly some mulching that can be used to soften hardscape edges. Or perhaps, you want the hardscape to stand on its own, and the use of seating and landscape planters can create an interesting design. Balancing hardscape and softscape with take some experimentation, but a successful design is always possible.

Garden Cottage – A New Wave of Personalized Design

Garden cottages can be personalized to each individual client.
Garden cottages can be personalized to each individual client.

Garden Cottage is hot! These landscape elements are being called “she sheds”; however, as a landscape architect, I most commonly call them Garden Cottage. I have completed a project that had two garden cottages at a pool. One was for the men to smoke cigars and play cards (with the bar), while the other was for the woman to gather and visit (and the outdoor kitchen). I felt like a complete cliché designing it and seeing it built. But that was the client’s specification.

I would prefer to stay away from the he/she dichotomy because but who is to say that a ‘he’ wouldn’t like a ‘she shed’ just as much. But, I suspect everyone needs some alone time. . All sorts of research says that our mental, physical and spiritual health requires retreating from our daily routines and making time to relax. Doing that in a space outside of the daily household grind helps free the mind from the cooking, cleaning, bills and whatever surrounds us in our homes.

A far more descriptive discussion that informs the design approach to these small auxiliary ‘buildings’ which is far more fun and interesting as a designer, addresses the big question ‘what happens in the building?’. This is called the program. Other questions that can aid in the design process include: What purpose does it the building serve? Is it about an outdoor entertaining space, an outdoor room? Or is it for some specific hobby like painting, sewing, and woodcrafts? Or is it an office, a private space to write, to think, to read? All of these possibilities can be gender neutral. And the program will direct the design.

What I hear is a structure with more design detail and aesthetic, a Garden Cottage, something that is guided by the concepts of a ‘cottage’, ‘bungalow’, ‘lodge’, ‘Shanty’ or even a ‘shack’ but let’s avoid the word ‘shed’. So the roof, windows and doors need to have some character, be more dynamic, more unique than the ‘shed’. It may not be constructed from the standard cookie cutter materials available. Or if it is, the materials will be used and combined in unique and uncommon ways. So maybe it is the ‘Garden Shanty’ concept with the doors and windows being recycled and reclaimed materials. Or a ‘Garden Cottage’ with additional trim woods added throughout and a multi-layer paint scheme. The key is deciding on a concept then carrying that idea throughout the project material choices.

With all these elements, there are two directing principles to respect. The function and the style define the design approach. The function of the architecture and its elements are directed by the program, the styles are directed by the concept. Program and concept are the two main design principles. The concept is driven by personal taste in this situation, the taste of the owner. The concept help direct the decorating choices. Is it Shabby Sheik, Tuscan, Country Garden Cottage, Eclectic Artist, Modern Contemporary, Mid Century Modern, Rustic Country………… The program is what happens in the space, how it works, flows, is organized. The concept includes the program in a bridge to the ‘style’.

While program and concept are two driving forces in design, budget will overrule in the end. It always comes down to what can be afforded. Start modest. It is always easier to add then subtract. It is also feels much better to discover you can have more than realize you cannot have everything you had hoped.

 

Memory Garden Design – Landscape for an Assisted Care Facility

Landscape Design Assisted Living
Memory Garden Design for an Assisted Living facility in Allentown, PA

Garden Design Inc. in Allentown, PA was given the opportunity to create the memory garden design plan shown above. The landscape design program is to accommodate and nurture a spectrum of elderly residential client’s ranges from moderately independent to those with a range of dementia. This  memory garden design project is in the first phase of design and future blog entries will document the design evolution through construction. The next phase is a construction budget which will help the client organization determine how much of the design can be instituted initially. From there, we will revise the landscape design, complete planting plans and construction details for the arbor, the potting table, the planters, the water feature and the paving surfaces.

SUMMARY OF MEMORY GARDEN DESIGN ELEMENTS :

ARBOR GARDEN ENTRY – The arbor denotes the entry to and exit from the garden. It is visible from all areas of the courtyard to provide a landmark for residents and clear direction how the return inside from the garden. It inserts an architectural gateway element to help define the garden as its own sense of place separate from the building interior.

TABLE AERA – A table area is sited immediately inside the garden delineating the main activity and gathering area adjacent to the entry. The gathering areas are designed to draw residents into the garden and make the mental and physical process of going outside a more easy experience.

RAISED PLANTER ACTIVIY – A raised planter activity area is placed adjacent to the table area but with enough space to make its own area. The planter defines a perimeter wall to the seating area further defining both spaces. Residents can work on planting or enjoy the planting they have already done while sitting at the tables.

WALKING PATH – An oval walking path creates the unifying structure of the garden. It flows through the sub-spaces with a simplicity that minimizes confusion. Everything in the garden is tied to the walking path and residents can always find way back to the arbor entry without any confusion of turns.

WATER FEATURE – A water feature provides a sensory experience that triggers memory. A classic three tiered fountain is an iconic design with strong memory associations. For security and safety, the water would flow into a gravel base surround without a standing pool of water. The fountain can be seen from all areas of the garden including the entry and will provide visual clues to the organization structure of the space.

BENCHES – Benches are sited under the pergola and around the walking path. Six benches offer the opportunity for solitude or fellowship in locations prime for watching the activities around the garden (people watching).

ACTIVITY AREA – The activity area is a flexible space where accessible potting tables and sitting tables can be flexibly organized. This space defines the far end of the garden and is clearly visible to and from all other areas.

LAWN – A central lawn creates a neutral green plane allowing flexible use and viewing foreground. The lawn creates a sense of openness and space to minimize any potential for a crowded feeling.

LANDSCAPE PLANTINGS – A mix of trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers create the outer green layer to the garden. The plantings become a layer of textures and colors to create a sense of separation from the fence and the roadway beyond. Trees provide shade and vertical architectural elements, canopies to define and delineate the garden spaces.

Check back with us for updates on the evolution of this memory garden landscape design project. We hope to see it through construction and be able to share images of the final built project next spring.