Can somebody walk me through landscape Design

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Supper Grassy, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. Supper Grassy

    Supper Grassy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,582

    Can Somebody tell me about landscape design and what goes on.
    How is a good design made?
    Programs and such
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    Good design is essentially one thing. It is finding a balanced solution to a set of problems.

    The difficulties are determining what those problems are, how to weight those to balance them correctly, and then finding a solution that matches that criteria.

    That is it in a nut shell - a general answer to a general question.

    Nice plants and stonework is not good design for someone on a low budget just like modular block walls and technobloc pavers are not right for the Lincoln Memorial. Does that make sense?
  3. Supper Grassy

    Supper Grassy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,582

    i understand, you are saying that you need to pick the right material for the right job.

    how is drawing up a plan done
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    What's your story Super Grassy, you lookin to get into the biz, or are you a homeowner, what's up.

    When you do a hand design, you use basic drafting skills. The great things about landscaping designs, they have more "free handing" rather than all the strait lines in drafting.

    Computer programs work great, the take all the guess work out of it. Landscape pro works for me.
  5. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    "you need to pick the right material for the right job"

    Picking plants happens late in the game. It starts by understanding the intent of the landscape. That goes way beyond what plants look nice. Different people have different values, different budgets, different lifestyles, and different sites.

    What is good design on one house owned by a family with three kids might be poor design if the exact same house was owned by a single corporate executive or a retired couple. It is more than aesthetics. It is about how much money can they invest in the initial landscape, how much time and/or money can they invest in maintenance, what is important to them (curb appeal, privacy, safety, security, edibles, environmental issues, ...), personal taste, alergies, physical limitations (accessible - now or future), ... That all has to do with the client or end user, we have not even looked at the site yet.

    A lot of that stuff the client will tell you, but a lot of it you have to get out of them. Somethings you can ask directly, but a lot of things you have to read between the lines.

    After that, you should analyze the site and look for opportunities and limitations. Then you blend the goals and objectives of the client with the realities of the site. In the end you pick the plants and materials that enhance what you are trying to accomplish and mitigate situations on the site that are working against what you are trying to accomplish.

    Sometimes it is all very obvious and it seems like you did not go through any process because it happens so quickly. Other times it takes significant time and effort.
  6. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    What Andrew has said is right on. The client interview is a very important step in the design process. You must also observe the existing conditions, including the style of the home. Good design is complimentary to the home and usable by it's occupants and environmentally responsible as well as sustainable.

    Good design involves taking all the information from the client and the site conditions and creating a working plan that meets the needs of your client and has a sense of place with the property. The art is in making all the elements work together to accomplish the goals and still be decorative. I work on the premise that form follows function. We make it all work together first, and than make it pretty. Your knowledge of materials and their uses should be extensive. You need to know soils, drainage, hardscaping, structures, pools, spas, water features, garden art, trees, shrubs and flowers. Your understanding of plants is essential. Listening and understanding what your clients desires and dreams will give you the information you need to create the outdoor environment they seek. An understanding of architecture, style and use of color will also set you apart from the average designer.

    Software programs are a simple tool to make the drafting process easier and more consistent and imaging software will assist you in selling more work, by allowing your client to "see" your ideas. Design software does not design. I look at it as a digital pencil in CAD or plan modes and a selling tool for imaging. The plant encyclopedia software, Horticopia, is one of my best tools. It allows clients to look at photos of different plants, and get additional information about those plants if they desire. We use Pro Landscape software by Drafix and it fit's the needs we have for plan and imaging software. It is relatively easy to use, but not over simplified. The libraries that i comes with are extensive and their support is better than anyone else's i the design software industry. Dynascape is also very popular and excellent software. It lacks the 3D imaging of Pro Landscape, but for old school designers, that's not a problem. Many landscape architects use straight CAD with added libraries for the materials they use with great success. There is even a free imaging type software available, called Google Sketchup, which is very popular with hardscapers. The art is not in the software or even the drawings, the true design art is in the finished installation! If you can create a sustainable and environmentally conscience landscape that exceeds your client's expectations, you have created good design.

    A very important aspect of design is believing in what you are doing and being able to put a value on your work. If you are designing for free, your clients are getting what they pay for. If your skills, talent and knowledge are worthwhile, folks will pay you.


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