Outdoor landscape design is always centered on the home. This is because the house rises preeminent as the dominant symbol of lifestyle and resident value system. Due to its significance, the home must be reflected and complimented by all points in the yard in order for the landscape design to be effective.
The residential landscaper develops these elements in two distinctive levels: hardscape and softscape. Softscape refers to organic elements such as trees, gardens, and grasses. Hardscapes refer to anything inorganic.
Softscape elements are the first things most of us visualize when we think of outdoor landscape design. While softscape elements technically occupy less space than hardscapes, their importance is absolute nonetheless. After all, the whole point of Houston outdoor living is to experience Nature from a comfortable, first-handle vantage point. This makes it all the more important to choose the right plant materials for the job, as there is only a very limited amount of area to work with, so whatever vegetation is planted must be done so deliberately that less becomes more at the end of the day.
Gardens are perhaps the most popular of these forms and can be planted in a wide variety of styles to establish entire themes of landscaping. There are many different garden styles a resident can choose from. Some are very traditional and formal, such as French gardens, parterre gardens, Italian gardens, and English gardens. Others, like modern and contemporary types, are fundamentally abstract and custom by design.
In a similar way, flower beds help add additional diversity and vibrancy to the landscape with a spectrum of colors. Flower beds are particularly good in areas too small to plant a garden. Smaller fountains, decorative statuary, and the bases of tree trunks are prime location for either annual or seasonal variety from a small but very powerful expression of color.
Trees provide shade and lend dimension to outdoor landscape design and pay homage to the architecture of the home by rising like pillars that reflect the vertical elements of architecture. A property without sizeable trees looks flat by comparison, and a house on such a property often stands out too much in juxtaposition to a two-dimensional landscape that appears plain to the subconscious mind. For clients residing on such a lot, Exterior Worlds offers special tree planting services and tree lighting for nighttime enjoyment of the overhead canopy.
Other forms of vegetation serve to establish boundaries and essence in outdoor landscape design. Hedges act like small organic walls that separate gardens from lawns and courtyards from open spaces. Open outdoor rooms are sometimes built with hedges and shrubs instead of walls.
The second level of outdoor landscape design is hardscape plans. While most people think only of solid, horizontal surfaces like patios and driveways when they think of hardscapes, the reality is that any structure erected on the landscape is technically classified as hardscapes. Hardscape design is actually a blend of horizontal and vertical elements that adds a human, livable element to the natural forms of the landscape. Great care is taken by the landscape architect to build these forms to scale and to use materials that compliment both the architecture of the home and the surrounding natural elements so that everything appears harmonious and balanced when the final project phase is complete.
Hardscapes are typically made of stone, concrete, or iron. Wood is technically classified a hardscape material by landscape architects, although wood is somewhat unique in that it is an organic substance derived directly from nature.
Some hardscapes perform a primarily functional role in outdoor landscape design. These forms include patios, driveways, and walkways.
Others play a more decorative role in professional landscaping. The copings around swimming pools rise up to add a much needed vertical element to swimming pool design. Architectural walls help frame outdoor rooms, entry gardens, and courtyard. Iron fencing, iron arbors, and iron trellises, depending on the geometry they embody, add an extra dimension of either Old World Formality or rustic motif to the landscape.