Far too often the Landscaping is considered as an afterthought rather than as an all-important frame for the architecture. It is the frame that can add or subtract considerable value to the house, not to mention your life style.
Often the landscape design and implementation is left to the owners taste and discretion, which often base their decisions based on zero experience and the latest garden magazine fad. Not necessarily a reliable qualification. Would you have your partner perform surgery on you after having read an article in a medical journal from Google?
Far too often the architect or builder or even unscrupulous or inexperienced Landscape designer or gardener will bring in the fad of the month design that will create the garden for the client; creating a wiz bang piece of design that fades as fast as the fashion.
You don’t want to leave the house with the mullet hairdo of the garden world. Mullets were quite popular amongst certain sections of society for a while (Some still wear them ahhh!).
So what is the answer?…Well I am glad you asked. The answer is to have the garden be a match for the architecture, be a frame for the picture.
One of the first reference points is the Entrance path and front fence. How does the entrance path reflect the architecture? Is it the same or similar material to the building? Is the layout of the paving reflective of the style of the house? For instance, if you have a front door with bold horizontal panels of glass, you could you have a front path with the same bold patterns of contrasting paving material. If the house has a series of interesting angles, you could you then reflect the angles of entrance path. Quite often the front path, straight on from the entrance only serves to make the land size appear smaller, compared to a path that enters from one side or the other.
The second item that can support the architecture is the planting for the front. Yuccas and Agave are all the rage. “Architectural foliage” While these plants look wonderful when young, there is the old adage “From a small acorn grows the mighty Oak”. In ten years’ time these plants will have turned into monsters, and as they grow, the value of the house is in a downward fall. I am not against Oaks or Cordyline. But the planting has to be dictated by the architecture not by the fashion. Right plant right place makes all the difference.
The third item I want to discuss is the entertainment area. Far too often the entertainment area or “Alfresco area” is designed to be far too small, I recommend a minimum of 4 x 5 meters. Have the entertaining area close to the house. While it may look great in magazines to have a stricter away from the house, the practicalities of having to travel from the house to the other end of the block, carrying food and necessities, particularly if it’s raining, makes the entertaining area completely impractical.
For the entertainment area to add value to the architecture and to the lives of the users it has to be considered as a usable room as part of the architecture. Not as a fancy add on. It must be able to protect the user from the weather and allow at least 8 people to sit down comfortably for dinner, no matter how small the residence is.
Lastly in this rapid fire tips and tricks article I want to mention is colors. As a rule of thumb, Inside light colors disappear; hence painting walls and ceilings white to have the space appear larger. But like so many of the principles of architecture that are the direct opposite in Landscape architecture, for the outside light colors come forward, making the space look smaller. So be very cautious of fence colors, placement of light and dark foliage, features the landscape. Use colors to create depth and interest, which directly relates to the sense of increasing or decreasing the same space which in turns is translated to a dollar value.
The landscape should, as it grows, add ever increasing value to the Architect and to the lives of those who use it, and that’s where the planning comes in. The garden is a complex set of jigsaw pieces. Each piece playing a part, nothing wasted and then putting the complex jigsaw together with experience so it looks simple and stunning.
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