Landscape Design Series: Curating our Design Opportunities
This is article three in the Landscape Design Series.
Are you getting the hang of landscape design? I have encouraged everyone to not panic because landscape design can seem overwhelming, but now your confidence should be growing. The last post in the series covered topics on beginning a design and understanding the elements and principles of design.
We have now explored and discovered the basics of landscape design. Your toolbox of landscape elements is prepared and you are ready to start planning. Before we start drawing our ideas on paper, visit the space you want to design. From there we will conduct an inventory and analysis.
An inventory and analysis may seem very technical, but it is not. Simply put an inventory is a list of existing site conditions. The analysis shows how existing conditions affect your design. As an example, you have a property line and your design must not go beyond your property. The property line is the inventory and knowing you cannot design beyond your property line is the analysis. Another great example is a large tree growing in your yard (inventory). The tree provides aesthetics and shade, making it difficult to grow plants in the deep shade (analysis).
To begin, let us start with the inventory. An inventory can include intangibles, physical objects, and environmental conditions.
Intangible items to consider for your landscape design include city codes, homeowners association covenants, or anything affecting your design without a physical form. Many of our neighborhoods have specific codes or rules that dictate how our landscapes should look, which can include plant lists. Other restrictions in our landscapes could prevent us from using specific plant material, structures, or furniture. Many of these rules help maintain a specific aesthetic character or help protect the environment. Other abstract characteristics include features that influence our senses, whether they are good or bad.
Physical objects include anything tangible in the landscapes that will influence our designs. I always note existing structures, structure styles, and other physical objects seen from the yard. Although you are designing your landscape, the views from your landscape can be beneficial or degrading to your landscape design. Other physical objects to note for your inventory include existing plants, utilities, circulation routes, or maintenance issues.
Environmental conditions affect our plant choices. Many parts of our yards have a different environmental conditions-for example the north-side of the home get less sun than the south. The Florida-Friendly™ Landscaping program’s first principle is Right Plant, Right Place. Following the principle of Right Plant, Right Place helps us reduce inputs and maintenance in our landscape because we selected plants that fit the existing environmental conditions. A great online source to helping pick plant material can be found at www.floridayards.org.
Now it is time for you to walk throughout your landscape and record everything you notice. Start recording parts of the landscape that you like or dislike. Is there anything worth keeping, relocating, or removing in the landscape? If so, these are important to start noting.
As you make your landscape inventory, you will start to notice the good, bad, and ugly in your landscape-this is the beginning of your analysis. The site analysis is when we address the good, bad, and ugly of our landscapes, which leads us to discover our landscape’s design opportunities. Design opportunities are the strengths in our landscapes we wish to exploit in our designs or they are the creative solutions to the weakness we identify during our inventory.
Our most creative moments in design are when we identify the weakness or threats to our landscapes and turn them into strengths and opportunities. The inventory and analysis help us curate our own creative moments through the design opportunities we give ourselves. Don’t skip on the site inventory and analysis, you will thank me later- and as always, I’m rooting for you.