What is a unique landscape? Our definition of a unique landscape would be a landscape that elicits a mental/emotional response that normally would be observed with no notice. From the functional and aesthetic stand point we believe a unique landscape should fulfill and exceed the requirements and dreams of the client, the site and the home. This has to do with great design experience and understanding, knowledge of materials and construction methods as well as experience in the execution and maintenance of landscape gardens.
Context-the relationship of the house to the site
At the heart of a unique landscape would be the homes relationship with the property and the properties relationship to surrounding homes, easements, streets, trees which is termed as the site context. First to consider are spatial relationships. What is the sequence of spaces from inside the home to the outside of the home? What is the walk experience from the street to the front door? Is there a clear distinction of spaces or rooms in the back yard and does the space tell you what its use is? Great architecture tells us, “a building that has signs to tell you were the restrooms are, is poorly designed because the sequence of spaces should be the signs and vocabulary of the architecture. This statement couldn’t be more true for landscape designers creating a unique landscape.
Unique Landscape Materials
The second layer of detail to context is the use of hardscape and landscape materials in articulating space. Materials should be sympathetic to and have a wonderful blend with the architectural materials. Elements of selecting hardscape; patio or deck materials include scale, color and texture. In terms of scale, you need to know if you’re building a patio to accommodate large parties or simply a family of four. Color can be used to either compliment the finishes inherent in the home or contrast with it. For example, in trying to match a multicolored brick choose a dark base color to “ground the brick facade.” Texture is the final detail selection in the hardscape which includes; size of units used, toweled edges or grout selections depending on the material used. Textural details can also relate back to the architecture, use contrasting materials which define spaces and as a finishing touch add warmth and intimacy. In designing the landscape planting we also utilize the same elements of scale, color and texture. Much like a painting, plantings are arranged in groupings and masses with contrasting color and textures. Rather than thinking in terms of shrubs, groundcover, flowers, think in terms of movement, contrast, and large brush strokes of color.
The landscape style doesn’t have to be an exact replica of the homes architectural style. What is more often the case regardless of the architectural style is creating “space” that reflects modern lifestyles. Often times even a classical landscape design or formal landscape design will have a contemporary approach in terms of how the spaces are utilized. Oftentimes the landscape of a modern home lacks the sleek lines that the architecture of the house has or lacks the quality of spaces or modules of a true modern landscape design. Also a modern home may not take be taking full advantage of sculptural opportunities which are true the home and its style.
Beauty is no accident
A unique landscape is not arrived at by accident. It requires an understanding of architecture, design principles, hardscape materials, landscape materials, their installation and construction methods as well as maintenance. Most importantly is the understanding of site context, the architecture of the home, the client’s wants and needs. The interpretation of these fundamental elements creates the unique landscape.