Analogous color schemes combine colors which are adjacent or side-by-side on the color wheel. An analogous color scheme could include green, blue-green, green-blue, blue and violet blue. This color scheme could be achieved by varying the foliage color from green to blue-green or by using pyracantha with orange-red berries against a red brick house.
Complementary color schemes combine colors directly across the color wheel. For example, red and green would be complementary colors. A complementary color scheme may be achieved by using plants with green foliage against a red brick house.
It is possible to have varying color schemes in one area of the landscape as the seasons change. White and pink azaleas flowers can yield a monochromatic color scheme with a red brick house. The green azalea foliage would produce a complementary color for the red brick during the summer. Pyracantha berries would be an analogous color to the red brick in the fall. The landscape designer should consider the color changes throughout the year when developing a landscape plan.
Colors can be used to visually change distance perspective. Warm colors and light tints like red, orange, yellow and white advance an object or area toward the observer. These colors and tints placed near the foundation of a house would make the house appear closer to the street. Cool colors and deep shades like blue, green and black recede and can be used to make the house appear farther from the street. Cool colors are restful while warm colors express action and are best used in filtered light or against a green or dark background.
Color can be used to direct attention in the landscape. Due to this strong characteristic, color should be used carefully. When color is used for this purpose, consideration must be given to year-round color not just to seasonal color. Consideration may also be given to the time of day when this color will be enjoyed. White or light tints could be used to create interest on a patio. Dark colors would add little to family enjoyment of this area as the daylight hours passed.
Line is related to eye movement or flow. The concept and creation of line depends upon the purpose of the design and existing patterns. In the overall landscape, line is inferred by bed arrangement and the way these beds fit or flow together ( Figure 2 ). Line is also created vertically by changes in plant height and the height of tree and shrub canopies. Line in a small area such as an entrance or privacy garden is created by branching habits of plants, arrangement of leaves and/or sequence of plant materials.
Plant forms include upright, oval, columnar, spreading, broad spreading, weeping, etc. ( Figure 3 ). Form is basically the shape and structure of a plant or mass of plants. Structures also have form and should be considered as such when designing the area around them.
Unity means that all parts of the composition or landscape go together; they fit. A natural feeling evolves when each activity area belongs to and blends with the entire landscape. Everything selected for a landscape must complement the central scheme and must, above all, serve some functional purpose.
Balance in design refers to the equilibrium or equality of visual attraction ( Figure 6 ). Symmetrical balance is achieved when one side of the design is a mirror image of the other side. There is a distinct dividing line between the two sides. Equal lines, forms, textures or colors are on each side of a symmetrical design.
Transition is gradual change. Transition in color can be illustrated by the radial sequence on the color wheel (monochromatic color scheme) previously discussed. Transition can be obtained by the arrangement of objects with varying textures, forms, or sizes in a logical sequential order. For example, coarse to medium to fine textures, round to oval to linear structural forms, or cylindrical to globular to prostrate plants. An unlimited number of schemes exist by combining elements of various size, form, texture and color to create transition ( Figure 7 ). Remember, transition refers to the 3-dimensional perspective of composition, not just the flat or facial view.
Focalization involves the leading of visual observation toward a feature by placement of this feature at the vanishing point between radial or approaching lines. Straight radial lines as in Figure 10 create a strong focalization when compared to curved lines. The viewer's eye is quickly forced along straight lines to a focal point. Generally, weaker or flowing lines of focalization are desirable in the residential landscape. Transition of plants or other objects along these lines can strengthen or weaken the focalization. Curved lines are stronger when curved toward each other than when curved outward. Indirect focalization is created by lines curved in the same direction. Focalization can be adjusted by plant materials along the lines to create symmetrical or asymmetrical focalization. Asymmetrical focalization is indirect while symmetrical focalization is more direct, creating stronger focalization.
Simplicity goes hand-in-hand with repetition and can be achieved by elimination of unnecessary detail. Too much variety or detail creates confusion of perception. Simplicity is the reduction of a design to its simplest, functional form, which avoids unnecessary cost and maintenance.
- Develop a plot plan.
- Conduct a site analysis.
- Assess family needs and desires.
- Locate activity areas.
- Design activity areas.
- Plant selection and placement.
The landscape horticulturalist may also be involved in protecting existing vegetation during construction. It may be desirable to block vehicular traffic from areas close to valuable trees.
Natural factors and features of a landscape include house orientation, land form, soil conditions, rainfall distribution, seasonal wind pattern and micro-climatic conditions. House orientation affects the exposure of various portions of the house to the sun ( Figure 11 ). This knowledge is essential so the designer can provide shade in important spots and locate activity areas appropriately. For example, a southeastern exposure is generally the most comfortable spot year-round while a western slope will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
Rainfall distribution can be determined on a regional basis. Periods of heavy rainfall can magnify the problems of shallow soils or a hardpan resulting in unwanted standing water. Sometimes these conditions may require the engineering of drainage modifications by some type of tiles or pipe. Often the conditions simply require careful plant selection.
Predominate wind directions differ with the area of the state, the season and the time of day. Where the wind direction differs in summer and winter, plantings can be arranged to block the cold winter winds from a patio and direct summer breezes into this same area ( Figure 12 ). While conducting the site analysis, be sure to look for existing wind breaks provided by plants and structures on the property or on adjacent property.
Architectural style of the house is of primary importance. Specific details of interest must be identified during the site analysis. Things like the height of windows, the height of house corners from the ground and overhang widths should be considered. Is the house guttered or should it be? If so, locate the outlets. Notice major traffic problems so proper access and movement can be provided.
Land form information derived from the site analysis can be used now. Do surface water drainage problems exist? If so, determine how to correct them. Engineering and legal considerations are involved in major surface water drainage problems. Seemingly simple solutions may affect someone else's surface drainage. Consider grassed waterways, paved waterways or possibly drainage tiles. Drainage problems may not exist but land form modifications could be used to create interest, or help block undesirable views or noise. Care should be taken not to create surface water drainage problems with land form modifications.
Existing land form may have slopes which will erode. Existing slope or steepness will determine what actions should be taken. Ground covers may be the answer for long, gentle slopes while terraces with railroad ties or blocks may solve the problem of a short, steep bank. Grass should not be put on slopes greater than 1:6 (1 foot of rise per 6 feet of run) because of maintenance safety. Other ground cover materials will probably hold a 1:2 or 1:3 slope. Bark mulch should not be placed on a slope greater than 1:10.
Bed form, traffic flow and plant selection and placement utilize art elements and design principles previously discussed. These can best be covered as the development of specific areas is discussed.
Public Area. The public area is the portion of the residential landscape the public sees and uses. The current trend toward smaller residential lots encourages the development of some of the front yard for family living. The public area contains the driveway, parking, walks, open space and entrance area. The purpose of the public area is to enhance the home, provide comfortable access and lead the visitor to the entrance.
Foundation planting is not all of landscaping but can be a vital part of functional landscape design. Too often foundation planting is overdone and left to stand along. History reveals that foundation plantings were used to block the view of raised foundations and to slow cold air movement under the house ( Figure 15 ). Although these needs do not often exist today, some landscapers and homeowners think it is a must to cover every linear foot of the foundation with plants.
Trees can be used in the public area to soften lines, provide shade and enframe the house ( Figure 20 ). Also trees placed in the backyard can provide an excellent background for the house as viewed from the street. Vertical lines of many houses can be effectively softened by a small tree planted in conjunction with other plants at a corner. Tree shape is very important. A low-branched, rounded tree softens this line while a slender upright tree only accents the line. Trees with a lot of exposed trunk, like a sabal palm, will also accent and not soften these vertical lines.
A moderate amount of open area in the front yard can create the feeling of a large expansive area that allows the observer's eye to move from the street to the planted areas. The planted areas can then direct the observer's eye to the appropriate place. Some family game activities need not be in the private living area and can be accommodated by open portions of the public area.
Entrance. The entrance should be an area of transition between outdoors and indoors. Considerable detail should be given to the planning and maintenance of this area. This is true because a visitor is close to this area and moving slowly or actually standing still. Therefore there is time to view this area and a favorable impression can be developed before a person enters the house.
Plantings in the public area should focus attention to the entrance. This means there should be no doubt in the visitor's mind where to enter the house. If the house is approached commonly from more than one direction, the focalization of the entrance form these different perspectives must be considered. This focalization is achieved through repetition of plant masses ( Figure 22 ). Transition of plant form, color and texture and the bed lines can help direct attention.
Living area. Elements in the living area, primarily the backyard, depend upon the desires and needs of the family. These desires and needs were determined during the interview outlined previously. This area must be clearly organized to avoid wasted space. Living area space must be organized based on the activities to be included there. Consideration is given to the house design, land form and house orientation as they relate to space organization.
Private area(s) are usually a part of the living area. A private area may be for reading and meditation as an extension of the master bedroom or it could be an area for small group conversation as an extension of the living room. A private area may be placed close to the house or in an isolated corner of the landscape.
Space and equipment for children's play are required in many landscapes. The play area should be an integral part of the landscape. Enclosure of this area may be required, based on age of children, size of area and activities on adjacent property. The permanency of the play area depends upon the ages of the children and family plans. If the children are 8 to 10 and no other children are expected, the area may be temporary and plans for future modification should be suggested to the customer.
The children's play area may require some open space. This space may also serve for adult entertaining. Planning for multi-use space of this sort can lead to high space utilization and efficiency.
It is often important to provide a degree of privacy in the living area. Fencing, walls or plants used for this purpose can also block views, enhance views and direct or block prevailing winds.
Structural features in the living area could include a patio, deck, terrace, water feature and/or garden and workshop. A patio used as an extension of the family room should be at least 12 feet by 15 feet (4m by 5m). The selection of surface material is based on land slope, expected use rate, style of the house and the amount of funds available. Raised wooden decks are suited for sloping land and are cooled by air flow beneath them. Brick and sand is less expensive than brick and cement and if installed properly can be quite durable. Stained concrete and concrete with an aggregate surface are also alternative surfaces for patios.
A water feature could be a swimming pool, spa, or a simple reflection pool. Moving water creates a secure, relaxed feeling in a private area and is often overlooked for this use. Expense of these items is often the limiting factor.
The designer should be concerned with traffic flow and circulation in the living area. Each unit in this area should be a part of the whole and contribute to the overall circulation pattern. This is especially true in the areas where entertaining is planned. Areas of limited access, like service areas, may not be a part of this circulation pattern. Circulation refers to the movement of people's eyes and then their bodies through a specific pattern in the landscape. For example, a quiet sitting area located in the back corner of the lot is hidden from view of the patio ( Figure 23 ). Proper bed arrangement and plant selection will lead the observer to one focalization point in the landscape. The person, now located at that point sees another focalization point and so on until the sitting area is seen. This systematic method moves people from one point to another until the desired circulation and traffic flow patterns are created. Walt Disney World is a working example of planned traffic flow by this technique.
Definition and Separation of Areas. Once the activity areas have been located and ideas for development of these areas have been formulated, the need for separation of these areas is often apparent. Space can be the medium for separation when working with a larger piece of property. Most often some other type of separation is required due to the number of separate activities planned in a small area. Sometimes it is only necessary to define space with a rail fence, etc., rather than providing a complete screen or barrier. Spaces can also be separated by changes in elevation. Planters can separate areas and can be a very attractive means of defining space.
A visual screen from one direction without being a physical barrier fits the bill for some situations. Groupings of plants can be positioned to give a visual block in one direction while allowing air flow into the activity area as previously shown in Figure 12 .
The required height of a screen depends upon the elevation of the view to be screened. A screen for privacy from the neighbor's two story window will require a taller screen than one for blocking the view of a neighbor down in the valley ( Figure 24 ). Generally, a screen should be placed as close as possible to the item to be screened.
Some locations in a landscape may be characterized by little or no air movement. Plants susceptible to mites, scales and other insects will usually be attacked more severely in areas with poor air circulation. Also locations in the landscape differ as to the maximum or minimum temperatures and daily fluctuation between these extremes. Plants can be selected to tolerate one or more of these conditions.
Plant architecture consists of form, size, texture and color. Plant form is classified as columnar, upright, spreading, broad spreading and prostrate. Plants should be selected on the basis of their mature size or a size at which they can be maintained easily. Texture is referred to as fine, medium or coarse. It is determined by branching habit, leaf size and shape, leaf arrangement, leaf color and leaf surface texture (dull or glossy). Plant color is determined by the foliage, flowers and/or fruits. Knowledge of a plant's seasonal color variations is essential.
Landscape designers must also be aware of insect and disease problems for plants they expect to include in a plan. Desirable plants are those resistant to or tolerant of pests like mites, scale, nematodes, borers, root rots, powdery mildew, wilts, galls, blights, and leaf spots. Plants in some locations must be tolerant of human abuse, air pollution and animals.
Usually, plants should be spaced with consideration to their mature size. Plants in large areas or groups are generally spaced to cover an area in 3 to 5 years. Plants should be spaced far enough from the house so that there is adequate air circulation near the house. Generally, space plants from the house by at least the distance of the plant radius at maturity. Spacing plants too close to the house is a common mistake.
Minimal Maintenance Considerations. Maintenance cannot be avoided, but it can be minimized. Even the perfectly designed and installed landscape will fail if maintenance fails. However, many maintenance problems are designed into landscapes.
Complex designs usually require more maintenance. Simplicity can be achieved by avoiding unnecessary detail. Limit the number of plant species and create well-defined planted areas by not scattering plants throughout open areas.
Design the appropriate size of maintained area and arrange plants in groups of like species to create a mass effect. Tree beds can eliminate trimming, reduce lawn mower damage to tree trunks and increase the speed of mowing. Edging of beds creates a sharp clean line and reduces maintenance requirements.
Make sure bed lines encompassing a lawn area meet at angles greater than 90 degrees. Walk, driveway and patio surfaces that are in grassed areas should be above the ground level. Avoid improper plant selection, spacing and installation that can cause maintenance headaches.