A landscape master plan is a drawing that specifies all hardscape and softscape elements that are to be installed on the property. It is used to designate the location of each individual element, and it is drawn to scale to ensure proportionality between elements. Extreme care is taken in drawing each element to scale in order to give clients an accurate, visual frame of reference on which to base their decisions. If necessary 3D modeling software is used to develop proportions and scales that simple drawings cannot accurately express.
Hardscapes may constitute up to 70 percent of a developed property, and vegetation typically varies widely from garden design to hedges and flower beds to special plantings of trees. It is very important to make sure that all of these forms are developed in proper dimensional and geometric relationship to the house proper, and to one another as well so as to establish a sense of balance and unity.
The landscape master plan is more than just a frame of reference for the client, though. It is also a much needed tool for constructing effective landscape architecture. One of the most overlooked aspects of landscape design–and one of the most difficult to conceptualize only a two-dimensional drawing—is grade elevation. Grade elevations are extremely important to the success of front yard and back yard landscaping. They are frequently overlooked by less experienced landscape designers or by yard service companies claiming to specialize in landscaping. Grade elevations work hand in hand with drainage systems that are vital to the lives of plants and to the integrity of outdoor structures. Without proper grade elevation, the yard can flood very quickly.
The first real elements detailed in any landscape master plan are hardscapes. This is because hardscapes normally comprise between 60-70 percent of landscape design. Some of the more common hardscape designs are as follows:
- Driveways are often expanded to provide more parking for guests when they arrive. Conscious effort is made to make these parking areas not only useful, but to also build them as decorative elements whose geometry and textured surfaces stand out more than plain concrete slabs.
- Patios are built wherever people need standing or seating areas. Pools, entry gardens, outdoor fireplaces, morning gardens, and areas around outdoor summer kitchens are all excellent areas to build patios.
- Swimming pool remodeling is of vital importance. Swimming pool design can make or break an entire landscape, and we find most pools need to be seriously overhauled in order to properly compliment the appearance of the house and to effectively blend with surrounding hardscapes and garden elements.
- Walls and fences, both functional and architectural, are also drawn to scale in our landscape master plans. Walls not only create boundaries, but they also create the visual sense of expanded space, much like adding furniture to a living room.
- The location and style of courtyards and outdoor buildings are detailed in the landscape master plan. This is absolutely essential to maintaining a consistent theme throughout the landscape no matter how many apparently disparate elements are present.
It is very important to draw these structures correctly— and to draw them to scale— in order to ensure that home architecture is respected, and that the landscape design, when completed, frames a theme of unity, balance, and reciprocal relationships. Successfully developing the inorganic portion of the landscape master plan then paves the way for the development of the many organic creations that constitute the essence of Houston outdoor living and which give the landscape its ultimate sense of energy and life force.
- Gardens are designed by drawing up planting layout plans. These plans specify what type of garden we will be installing (such as French, Italian, Mediterranean, Modern, or Contemporary). They also show how large the garden will be, and of course, where it will be located.
- Tree management services are also spelled out in the landscape master plan. Root barrier maintenance, root pruning, tree planting (when necessary) and construction fencing are some of the many things we do to work with trees and to protect them when developing a landscaping theme.
- Hedges, flowering plants, and special grasses are planned around structures, walls, and patios to create a blended presentation of architecture and greenery
Finally, the final touches of special decorations and ornamental features are then added to the landscape master plan. Fountains, statuary, and trellises are often interwoven into organic features such as gardens and hedgerows in order to create the sense that the natural has united itself with the manmade in acceptance and harmony.