Help Designing a 2.5 acre Nature Retreat

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JLH, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. JLH

    JLH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    I have a house on open farm land in the southern part of N.C. MY yard is approximately 1.5 acres which is in need of a complete makeover, including hard and softscape, irrigation installed, the works.

    On one side of my yard is what previously was a 2.5 acre pasture, no fence just open area, which has been cut with a 60" ZTR for the last several years. We still refer to that area as "The Pasture" even though you could say that it's just an extension off one side of the yard with 2.5 acres of extra grass to cut.

    I can see in my minds eye what I would like for it to be in the future, but I'm don't know how to get there.

    I would like to turn it into a nature area, bird habitant, nature park, walking trails throughout covers the whole area, with bird feeders, bird houses, park benches, open and secluded sitting areas. I would like to make walking paths throughout maybe 3-4 feet wide using some type of gravel or maybe even recycled asphalt or whatever would be the most appropriate for that type of application.

    I prefer small to medium size trees that spread out, yet giving an open view below the branchs.

    I want areas to just sit and read and relax in quiteness and enjoy the surroundings of nature. I want year round color with different types of beds along the way for color. I would like some different types of trees throughout for beautiful red and yellow fall foliage.

    Can anyone visualize what I'm trying to accomplish? It's kinda hard to even describe what I can see in my mind.

    I want this to be an extension of our yard that invites you to take a walk through paradise and enjoy.

    Who can help me design and get this type of project on paper and guide me through the process?

    I am also a competetive runner, and I would like to use the walking paths for easy day recovery runs.

    I would be very thankful for any suggestions or help.

  2. stxkyboy

    stxkyboy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    A landscape architect
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    The next thing that you need to do is analyze the site. If you have had it surveyed, you should have a good base plan to work from. Hopefully, there would be topo on that plan and some of the important things located (like structures). If you don't have that, you probably have or can get the assessor's plan of your land and a xerox of the town's topography for your area - not as good, but better than nothing.

    Then get out there and sketch in existing conditions as acurately as you can. Things like nature trails, sitting areas, and planted areas do not require a great deal of precision on your plan, but you do need to have an understanding of existing vegetation, topography, and anything else that might relate to your proposed uses. That base plan is going to show you how much room you have to accomplish all of your goals, what areas lend themselves to the various things you want happening.

    Next, make yourself a list of all of the activities (sitting, viewing, or meditating are all activities just as jogging is) you want to be happening on this ground. For each of those, there should be some sort of experience you want out of it (like exhileration, peacefulness, sense of accomplishment,...). Also, there needs to be a physical requirement for each activity to happen (Tennis requires 120'x60' of flat land with a hard surface oriented to the sun a certain way).

    After you have those activities, experiences, and requirements listed out, you need to figure out how they best function in relationship to each other. Obviously you don't want noisy activities in areas where peace and quiet are required for another activity. Draw out a diagram of bubbles that show how these would "ideally" be arranged. The site will alter the ideal arrangement, most likely, but it should be strived for.

    Next, draw out a few concept plans showing your activities on the site using the requirements that you determined earlier. Apply what you learned about the site against these conceptual designs so that the site agrees with the spatial requirements that you need to have the activities to get the experience that you laid out. You may find that you do not have enough of the right kind of space for some activities or that some conflict with others. In the end, you will have a logically planned site.

    Adding details to these areas will most likely be what is most noticed by other people and the most fun part of the design. But the logical planning is what is going to make it or break it when it comes to whether it functions or not. Without it, it is like frosting a bad cake.
  4. JLH

    JLH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    Thanks for the information and taking time to reply.


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