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Residential Landscape Design

Residential Landscape Design

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Published by: Michelle Ann Camacho on Jun 20, 2012
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andscape design is the art of developing property for its greatest use and enjoyment. Effective landscape design isalso a science because it involvesunderstanding the environment around your home and selecting  plants that perform well in that environment. In either case, awell-conceived landscape design, properly installed and well main-tained, adds value to your prop-erty and enhances the quality of  your life. There are four ways inwhich the landscape is valuable:aesthetically, economically, func-tionally, and environmentally.
Aesthetic Value
An attractive landscape is aesthetically valu-able because it adds beauty or is pleasing to your senses. The visual beauty o your homeand property can be enhanced through creativelandscaping while undesirable eatures can bedownplayed. The sounds that a landscape o-ers, like a breeze rustling the leaves in the treesor the sounds o birds or o water splashing in aountain, enhance the aesthetic qualities o yourhome environment.The aroma o fowers or the smell o a resh-ly mowed lawn and even the taste o ruit rom plants that you might have in the landscapeare soothing. The sense o touch also can be anaesthetically valuable eature o the landscape.Consider lying on the lawn in the shade o astately oak, the eel o the cool grass on yourback on a hot summer day. What else can soothethe mind like that?
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Economic Value
The well-done landscape adds economic valueto your home and property. The value o yourhome can be increased by as much as 6 to 15 percent as a result o a good landscape. However,the landscape is not the most valuable eature o  your property; the house is. The unction o thelandscape is to enhance the beauty and thereorethe economic value o your house.Thoughtul landscaping can also reduce energybills by buering seasonal temperatures. In addition,trees and shrubs can be used to reduce wind speed,making your outdoor living area more comortable.
Functional Value
Landscaping oers a special unctional value,too. Well-placed trees, shrubs, tur, and construc-tion eatures increase your use o the property. Alittle shade in the right place, a little sun in another,a place or the kids to play, a private patio, pool, ordeck—all add to the enjoyment o being outside.Landscaping helps you solve landscape prob-lems and cut down on maintenance. For exam- ple, groundcover used on a steep hill in the yardcan help you avoid lawn maintenance headachesand, on a very steep slope, groundcover may beessential to prevent erosion.
Environmental Value
The landscape not only has unctional worth,but it can enhance the environment, too. Throughcareul landscaping, temperatures can be bueredin the summer and winter. Glare and wind can bereduced and water can be used more efciently.In addition, plants in the landscape help clean theair o dust and some pollutants. Your landscapealso provides a habitat or all kinds o wildlie.
Decide On Your Level Of Commitment
A good landscape starts with a landscape plan. The landscape plan puts on paper yourdesigns or your property. Essentially, the designor your landscape is the scheme or increasingthe aesthetic, economic, unctional, and envi-ronmental value o your property. The plan is aguideline or blueprint or using plants to makethat scheme come alive in the land.True landscape design involves ar more than just buying a plant that happens to look nice andsticking it in the ground. Design requires care-ul thought and learning how trees, shrubs, andconstruction materials can be used to develop along range plan or your property. I this soundslike a lot o work, you’re right!Your level o commitment to the task determinesthe approach you decide to take in developing alandscape design or your property. Three approach-es are commonly used to landscape a property. Eachreects a dierent level o commitment, and eachhas clear advantages and disadvantages:1. Some people preer to hire a proessionallandscape designer to prepare a comprehensivelandscape plan and then contract to have it installed.An advantage o this approach is that it takesthe least amount o time and eort on your part.You simply don’t have to go through the thoughtand planning process or designing the landscape.You also don’t have to study the kinds o plantsthat you should use; and you don’t have to do allthe work o hauling and planting the plants. Thisapproach also oers the least risk o plant loss orother problems resulting rom poor design, plantselection, and incorrect plant installation.The most obvious disadvantage o this ap- proach is the cost. You have to pay or the ser-vices o a proessional. But don’t rule out a pro-essional designer based on ear o expense. Thedesign is the least expensive part o landscaping.I you do not have the time, talent, or desire toengage in this type o work, the landscape design proessional can ft the design to your budget,help you avoid mistakes, and provide you witha comprehensive plan that can be installed overtime, as money becomes available.A good designer has the artistic skills to createa landscape that uses and enhances what you al-ready have with plants and construction materialsto create a valuable landscape. The designer shouldalso have knowledge o plants’ aesthetic qualitiesand maintenance needs to provide you with a land-scape that oers year-round beauty and a mainte-nance program that suits your liestyle.A more subtle disadvantage, which is usuallynot a problem or most people but which can causesome annoyance or a ew homeowners, is thatthe personal tastes o the designer can dier rom yours. Most landscape designers go to great eortto develop a design that suits your tastes and meets your landscape needs, but each designer has his orher own unique design preerences.
. Some homeowners hire a proessionaldesigner to prepare a comprehensive landscape plan and then they install it themselves.This option cuts down on the time and eortneeded to select plants and develop a landscape de-sign. This removes the guesswork o plant selectionand reduces the potential or landscape problemslater. For those who like to work in the yard, thisapproach allows them to keep the hands-on ele-ment o putting the plants in themselves.O course, you do have to pay or the plan, butthat is a minor cost compared to the cost o the plants and installation by a proessional. Thereis still the potential or problems down the road,however, i you are not careul to plant correctly.. Some homeowners take on the task o thedesign and installation o the landscape by them-selves. This is the least expensive option in theshort term, and it is probably the most un orthe serious gardener.This do-it-yoursel option, however, oers thegreatest risk o poor design and poor plant selec-tion and incorrect installation—any o whichmay cost you more in the long run. It is obvious,too, that this option requires the greatest timeand eort on your part.
The Design Process
Whether you want to do-it-yoursel or leave itto the proessional, it is helpul to understand the process that is involved in designing a landscape:• Analyze your site and develop a base plan.• Determine your landscape needs and sketchout ideas to meet those needs.• Choose the plants and construction materi-als that you will use to achieve your ideas.• Create your design on paper.
Site Analysis
The frst step in designing your landscapeis to perorm a site analysis. Site analysisbegins with a base plan or base mapand an inventory o what already existson your property (Figure 1). Sketch out your house, existing structural eatureso the property, and plants. This is donein a plan view, rom the perspective o lookingdown on your property rom the sky. Measure thedimensions o the house and draw and label existingeatures and plants on the base map. Draw to scale,such as 1” = 8’ (1 inch on the ruler represents 8 eeton the plan). Or, draw on graph paper where eachsquare on the paper represents 1 oot.
Figure 1. Base map showing notes for site analysis.

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