Landscape Design 101

Published by Heather Fesmire in Bucks Country GardensLandscapeLawn & GardenPlants

BCG Landscape ASH

There are many factors that come into play that one must take into account in order to create a successful planting. Knowing the process behind landscape design will not only aid in the continued success and development of a space we help you create, but also allow you the freedom to implement smaller spaces in between larger projects if you feel like getting your hands dirty.

Here are some basic design steps:

Gather Design Information

A quick sketch of the area with some pictures making sure to take all needed measurements, obstacles, elements, sun exposure, topography, and inventory of the area.

Landscape Design Prep

It is great starting with a blank canvas… time to plan!

Map Out Your Landscape Design

This will be a ‘to scale’ rough plan of the area where you jot down ideas, your outline. This will include general notes for specific areas: rain garden, rock garden, screen for deck, play area, etc. This is also where I write in my plant palette for each area….

Plant Palette

Knowledge is key when coming up with your list of plants. Once I have my base plan completed, I write my plant palette directly in the area where they are going to go based on the conditions and any specific jobs I would want the plants to do. Google will be your best friend here, but make sure to check a couple sites as mature sizes will vary widely sometimes.

Landscape Design Plant Palette

There are so many colors of plants to choose from to create your atmosphere! Let us help you.

Know Your Landscape

Get to know your surroundings! Note the following: sun exposure (length of direct sun per day as well as if it is in the morning or afternoon – this makes a big difference), soil type, and grade of land (low area, level, sloped). Microclimates narrow this down even further. Example- If we have a bed that is in between a patio and a white stucco house that gets full sun from 11am on, this particular bed would be more prone to heat and drought stress than another bed with the same sun exposure not surrounded by heat absorbing hardscape.

The View

Plants have a big job to do! They help create views. Most outdoor spaces have views you would either want to accentuate or screen. Items that you may want to accentuate is a vista, a dynamic portion of the house, or a garden structure/element. Views that you may like to obstruct (screen) are utilities (meters, AC units, generators, pool equipment, poles, etc.) accessory buildings (one might also want to accentuate these depending on the style), neighboring buildings or accessories, roads or walkways. The plants we choose are going to depend on the height needed, and if the view is from the house (you would most likely want evergreen screen) or from an outdoor living space (deciduous screening may work as you are looking for coverage during the growing season while using the space). Other plant jobs are adding shade, color, or fragrance to your space.

Final Landscape Design Layout

This will be a ‘to scale’ plan, clean bed lines, any garden features are included and all plants and counts would be labeled. This is also where we get to choose our specific plants, colors, flower forms, textures, etc. Remember to choose from your plant palette so you know the plants will work in the space’s conditions and do their jobs. The little details really make a garden fun – color combinations, foliage, flower shape and form, tree and shrub structure, spacing, and making sure to have something interesting through the year. Also, make sure to layer plants so that larger plants don’t hide smaller ones!

Landscape Design by Amy Sanchez-Hamilton

Landscape Design by Amy Sanchez-Hamilton.

It is important to remember that plans are a general guide. It is a compilation of ideas that once put into practice may not fit exactly as on the plan. One of the most important abilities of a designer I believe, is the ability to adjust on site if any situations change. As always, we are here to help! Bring in your notes or a couple pictures and we are more than happy to give you a list of plants that would work in your space. We want to help you create your dream landscape design!

Written by:

Amy Sanchez-Hamilton | Landscape Designer/Sales