Landscape design is where a new garden is born, ideas are merged into a direction to convey those ideas into drawing format so everybody can see what you are thinking. Good garden design requires a deeper understanding of the workings of a quality landscaped garden. There are many factors to be considered within a site before any designing is done.
Considerations of the site conditions will influence the possibilities of the landscape to enhance, on the other side the constraints will serve to hinder your ideas and require clever ways to combat them, finding solutions and a balance, will be an important aspect of the design process to maximise the potential of any space.
A thorough site assessment is required to understand the canvas you are working with, to understand how to proceed further and understanding of the end goal of the client. Just a few examples of analysis of the site conditions are;
Geology and Soils and Plant Selection: Yep, i got it, its clay, throw some gypsum in there and it will be all good. NO!, soils vary from house to house and there are many different types of clay which require different approaches to improve the soil conditions for optimal plant growth. Is there compaction issues?, Is there erosional issues? Too wet?, Too dry? Lack of nutrients? for example.An assessment of soils and geology condition's will determine appropriate plant selection for optimal growth. A plant at optimal growth with require less maintenance and have less chance of disease. Understanding the geology will determine different construction techniques for any structural elements to ensure structural integrity and longevity.
Water: One of the first factors to be assessed. The site and how water reacts with it important. Water can cause expensive repair bills to buildings and homes if it is not controlled. Water pooling against buildings, insufficent drainage, boggy soils for example, all need to be rectified by controlling water. Adding landscape elements such as retaining walls for example, must consider how water interaction with the site will change as a result of the wall. Good design will take existing water issues, combined with the introduction of a new landscape elements, and create appropriate water control measure's to minimise water's negative impact's on the site.
Climate: Local climate or microclimate conditions need to be analised. This determines how the sun, wind, rainfall for example will effect the site. Consideration of these factors provides a more comfortable space to enjoy, and any design must take into consideration the micro climate to place elements in suitable locations to reduce any negative effects. The living elements of your landscape will thank you such as plants, grasses, pets and people, as the space provides adequate shade where needed, protection from howling winds, plants positioned in an appropriate location to recieve the correct amount of sun.
Function: A vital aspect of any landscape is function, you could design the greatest garden in the history of the world, but if it lacks function, its a failure. Function comes with assessment of your needs in regards to the use of the space. Forming the uses into a design that functions. The landscape is accessible, have the basics incorporated such as a form of clothesline, storage, lighting if you will entertain at night, appropriate vehicle access and parking, smooth pathway transitions between spaces, lawn area for recreation to mention just a few.
Environmental legislation: Your local Council is responsible for enforcing the legislation in regards to what you can and cant do in relation to your garden. It comes in the form of a DCP (Development Control Plan). You would not want to build that new deck and later discover that it is in an illegal position, and required council approval via a D.A. (Development Application). Consideration of the local laws need to be abided by and a good design will take these potential limitations and solution towards a positive result.
We have shown above maybe 30% of the initial assessment that goes towards producing a design, and we have not yet drawn a thing! Hopefully you now have an insight into the depth of analysis and time it takes to produce quality, well thought through, combining a sound base of knowledge of the site and incorporating your requirements to produce a well grounded landscape design.