First Steps Of Yard Design

A Clearer Picture Of How To By First Understanding Landscaping, It's Methods, And Principles.

For most folks set on creating their own landscape design, the question of what is landscaping is often a good place to start to get a better understanding the "how to" of it. While understanding what it is in terms of history or definition may be helpful to some to get a grip on the how to of it, it's generally not as helpful as understanding the principles of what makes a good design appealing and functional.

For most people, it's easy to look at a great yard, get ideas and copy them, but it may never even occur to them what it is that made it so appealing or what principles are applied to create an inviting and functional design that just simply works and "pops". So along with looking at that, let's answer the real question of what is it about it.

Because landscaping addresses so many different local, geographic, environmental, and global issues, landscape design can have both a simple and an extensive definition. The history of gardens and landscapes goes back centuries and can teach you alot about how to design a garden or yard. However, it's generally not the real answer that folks are looking for who need an understanding to better create their own front yard, backyard, patio, or pool area.

A Definition Of Landscaping

While we'll take it a little further as it relates to the design process, as defined by Wikipedia, "Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including but not limited to:

  1. living elements, such as plants and activities known as gardening, the skill of growing plants with a purpose of creating an appealing or even useful environment with the landscape.
  2. natural elements such as the land, shape and elevation of the terrain, or areas of water;
  3. man made elements such as buildings, fences or other human constructed elements; and
  4. elements like weather and lighting."

If you simply want a definition, the Wikipedia Definition Of Landscaping will give you a basic explanation of the history and aspects of many methods.

Methods And Design Styles

While often not understood, methods and styles of landscaping are not the same thing. While a method is more of a way of doing it such as Xeriscaping, or Sustainable Gardens, a design style addresses the theme, appearance, and incorporation into the surrounding elements such as the style of home or existing surroundings.

For instance, landscaping a slope, hillside, or other problem area will require special methods that address erosion, run off, saturation, ground cover, plants, and other issues. Xeriscaping, for instance, is a low water use method used in areas where environmental issues such as drought requires special planting, watering, and grading techniques. Xeriscaping is not a design style.

However, depending on the style of home, the neighborhood, geographic location, or just your own ideas, a landscape design can be a number of styles such as Southwest, Mediterranean, Japanese, Formal, etc..

What Can Landscaping Accomplish?

What most simple definitions will tell you is that landscaping is sculpting, forming, changing, altering, etc., etc., etc. an area of land into a different form that is useful and/or visually appealing. Simple enough, right? It could involve plants, dirt, ground cover, buildings, structures, water, man-made stuff, natural stuff, and the existing lay of the land.

  • It addresses and corrects specific problem areas like slopes, hillsides, drainage issues, blocking wind, creating shade, creating privacy, blocking noise, etc.
  • It adds useful hard surfaces to otherwise unusable hardscaping areas such as driveways, parking, sidewalks, and walkways.
  • It creates personal space for entertaining and relaxing such as patios, swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, and even outdoor bedrooms.
  • Landscaping creates visual curb appeal and invitation that directs visitors to the front door or other entrance of the home or business.

What Are The Principles?

Since it is an art form, the principles of landscaping folow guidelines closely related to all other forms of art. They help define what it is by giving structure to how it is applied to create often unseen effect that gives a well designed yard its appeal. Things that are often not even considered such as what makes a design balanced, makes it flow, stay in proportion, or simply what makes it so appealing. This is the art of landscaping.

Understanding What It Is Through Design Styles

As we have a better understanding of what it is and the techno-speak of applying it, an even better understanding of landscaping can be gained by seeing examples and pictures of designs and design styles. Together, the illustrations and verbal explanations will help you see the big picture and find a starting point for the framework of your own design.

  • Landscaping Ideas
    These are a few of our own projects and designs in several different design styles and themes.
  • Landscaping Pictures
    This is where most folks start to look for ideas and get a good understanding of what is landscaping and how to use it.
  • Design Plans
  • Backyard Ideas
    What is the best way to landscape your backyard? What kind of elements should you add or leave out? These designs and elements should spark some ideas.
  • Front Yard Ideas
    Front yards will give you some ideas about what good curb appeal is, access and entry, as well as many other aspects of landscaping, gardens, and garden design.



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