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Garden Design
Designing Gardens as
Part of a Sustainable
Landscape
Sustainable Landscape Design
 Functional
 Maintainable
 Environmentally
Friendly
 Cost Effective
 Visually Pleasing
 Consider the function of each portion of
the landscape
 Note problems/attributes in the existing
landscape
 Evaluate the site characteristics, including
soil type, pH, light, wind, etc.
 Decide on your goal and landscape style
Sustainable Landscape Design
Garden Design
Formal = straight lines, plants in rows,
symmetrical, globes and columns
Informal = curvilinear patterns, plants
in intertwined masses, asymmetrical,
natural plant forms
Garden Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
 Locate gardens as part
of your overall
landscape design
 Create a good turf
area, with functional
spaces and gardens
behind the concept
lines that form the
turf shape
Garden Design
 Consider each
individual viewpoint
when designing the
gardens and planting
beds
Sustainable Landscape Design
The most beautiful
landscapes are
“designed”, not
decorated. They
create unity by
incorporating
Principles of
Design, including:
BALANCE
SCALE
REPETITION
SEQUENCE
SIMPLICITY
VARIETY
Design beds to keep maintenance to a
minimum
Garden Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
What makes it look good?
Human eyes need a place to start:
FOCAL POINT
A focal point is the first thing we see when we look at a landscape.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Examples of things that create focal points are:
Artwork
A plant that is different than those around it
Structures
Birdbaths, birdhouses, birdfeeders
Boulders
Bare spots
Diseased/dying plants
Debris
FOCAL POINTS CAN CHANGE THROUGHOUT
THE SEASONS!
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Focal Point
Focal point
Sustainable Landscape Design
Locating Focal Points
Any given view of the landscape
should have one major focal point,
and maybe one or two secondary
focal points. Too many focal points
creates a “busy” landscape.
Locate focal points 1/3 of the way
from one side .
Sustainable Landscape Design
Focal Point??
Sustainable Landscape Design
After our eyes find a focal point, they
need to go somewhere, and look for
lines to follow.
Lines can be formed by edging, paths,
structures, plant masses, plant form,
shadows, etc.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Focal
point
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Lines
Sustainable Landscape Design
Lines
Sustainable Landscape Design
Lines
Sustainable Landscape Design
Lines
 Too many lines, or no lines, create a
confusing, busy landscape.
 Lines should take the eye where you want
it to go—and keep it in the landscape.
 Avoid lines that take the eye into the sky,
or into the neighbor’s yard!
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Before you start thinking about specific
plant species, to get a good design, you
must first plan for each plant’s
characteristics, or “Elements of Design”
Elements of Design
Primary (visual)
Plant type
Plant form
Plant height/width
Plant Texture
Plant Season of Interest
(including color)
Sustainable Landscape Design
Plant Form:
Arching
Upright
Creeping/spreading
Drooping/weeping
Mounded
Horizontal branching
Columnar
Sustainable Landscape Design
Consider both
foliage form
and flower
form
Plant Size (height and width)
Consider the plant’s
MATURE, NATURAL
size!
Sustainable Landscape Design
Plant texture
Visual coarseness/fineness of foliage, branching,
flowers.
A plant’s texture is relative to what’s around it,
and it may change throughout the season.
Plant texture is EXTREMELY important in design,
and can make or break a landscape
Sustainable Landscape Design
Texture
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Texture
Sustainable Landscape Design
Texture
The finer the texture, the more of it
you need. Lawn grass is our finest
textured plant.
Consider textural changes to create
a focal point, repetition, and variety.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Season of Interest
This is how you get a landscape that is
interesting all year—by planning it out on
paper!
For each plant, group or mass, think about
when it will have significant interest, and
make that work with what’s around it,
creating focal points, repetition, unity.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Season of Interest
COLOR!
What’s the easiest way to choose a
color scheme?
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Color
* Warm colors appear closer, so are good
for viewing from a distance.
* Cool colors recede, so are better up
close.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Color
STEAL AND COPY ONE!!!!
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Elements of Design
Secondary: Soil/fertility preferences
(non-visual) Moisture requirements
Light requirements
Hardiness
Disease & Insect resistance
Sustainable Landscape Design
On a scale drawing, locate plants in
slightly intertwined groups and
masses, using single plants only when
a focal point is desired.
These groups and masses will help move
the eye through the landscape.
Sustainable Landscape Design
Next, keeping in mind the Principles of
Design (Balance, Scale, Variety,
Emphasis, Simplicity, Sequence,
Repetition), assign Elements of
Design characteristics to each plant,
plant group or plant mass.
Sustainable Landscape Design
 “Key” plants soften a hard feature in
the landscape
 On vertical corners or structures, they
break the visual vertical line and keeps
the eye in the landscape
 They soften large areas of hard
surface, such as retaining walls or
fences
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
 “Accent” plants are a focal point—
they draw attention to themselves
 Could be all year, or only certain
times, such as when in bloom
 Accent plants can be a single plant, a
group, or a mass
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
 Plant “groups” are 3 or more of a
species, where each individual plant
is discernable
 Often serve as accent plants at some
point during the year
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
 “Mass” plants – when many plants of a
particular species are planted close
enough together so that you can’t
see the individual plants
 Masses serve to move the eye
between more important components
and to tie a landscape together
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Start with a backdrop! Everything looks better with
a backdrop! Create one if one doesn’t exist yet.
Then, locate any non-plant focal points.
Then, start with your biggest plant or your focal
point plants. Using your available space as a
guideline, your tallest plant should be 1/3 or 2/3
the height of the backdrop (unless the backdrop
is more than 18-20 feet tall).
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
How big should your garden be?
The width of a border planting
should be 1/3 the width of the total
area.
Each “height” should have an equal
amount of space within the bed.
Flower Garden Design
In small areas where other rules don’t
apply, a 4-8 foot wide border allows
for an attractive variety of plants.
Sustainable Landscape Design
For island beds, be sure they fit into the
overall concept plan.
A good standard size is 8 feet wide, 15 feet
long, with maximum plant height of 5 feet,
but it should be in scale to the site!
The tallest plant should be as tall as ½ the
width of the bed.
Sustainable Landscape Design
For beds viewed from a distance, hold
your hands out in front of you at
shoulder width.
Where your hands meet the backdrop
is a good length for your flower bed.
Garden Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable Landscape Design
Know what plants look like all year
Intertwine plant groups to avoid lines
that act as inadvertent focal points
Deciduous shrub, 2 ½ ’ X 5’,
creeping, medium texture,
spring interest
Deciduous shrub, 6’ X6’,
upright, medium texture,
fall interest
Evergreen shrub, 4” X 4’,
mounded, coarse texture,
winter interest
Herbaceous perennial, 18” tall,
mounded, fine texture, summer
interest (red flowers)
Ornamental grass, 40” tall,
upright, medium texture,
fall interest
Sustainable Landscape Design
Finally, choose specific plant species
that match the assigned
characteristics for each plant, group
or mass.
Sustainable Landscape Design
MATCHING PLANTS
Emerald Elf Amur Maple
Regent Serviceberry
Glossy Black Chokecherry
Spreading Cotoneaster
Beach Plum
Compact American Cranberrybush
Emerald Triumph Viburnum
Diablo Ninebark
Sustainable Landscape Design
Deciduous shrub, 6’ X6’,
upright, medium texture,
fall interest
MATCHING PLANTS
Birdsnest Spruce
Dwarf Norway Spruce
Dwarf Balsam Fir
Aglo Rhododendron
Dwarf Yew
Evergreen shrub, 4” X
4’, mounded, coarse
texture, winter interest
Sustainable Landscape Design
MATCHING PLANTS
Rosy Glow Barberry
Evita Weigela
Snowmound Spirea
Fritschiana Spirea
Cutleaf Stephenandra
Sustainable Landscape Design
Deciduous shrub, 2 ½ ’ X 5’,
creeping, medium texture,
spring interest
MATCHING PLANTS
Big Bluestem
Red Switchgrass
Overdam Feather Reed Grass
Red Flame Grass
Tufted Hairgrass
Fountain Grass
Windspiel Purple Moorgrass
Strawberries & Cream Ribbon Grass
Sustainable Landscape Design
Ornamental grass, 40” tall,
upright, medium texture,
fall interest
MATCHING PLANTS
Paprika Yarrow
Red Beauty Yarrow
Fanal Astilbe
Luxuriant Bleeding Heart
Sweet William
Daylillies
Coral Bells
Sustainable Landscape Design
Herbaceous perennial, 18” tall,
mounded, fine texture, summer
interest (red flowers)
Sustainable Landscape Design
Enjoy your
landscapes!

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fundamental of element design in landscape.ppt