Landscape By Design

Posted by: National Garden Club on


Ever driven through a neighborhood where the houses looked pretty much alike, but some were clearly more interesting than others?

Take a closer look next time and you’ll soon spot the difference: landscape design. The grounds that surround a home can often make the difference between the ordinary and the spectacular.

And that, according to professionals, can be worth up to 15% more in a home’s valuation.So what does it take to have landscaping that stands out?

Good design, good planning and expert advice. “Having a good master plan going into a project can usually pay for itself in costly mistakes avoided,” says landscape designer Gail Dresner. “That’s not always easy to grasp at the front end, but any professional designer can tell stories of the grounds they had to go in to fix after a homeowner’s initial work proved disastrous.”

Professional landscape designers bring a level of expertise well beyond choosing plants. “Good landscape design is about more than aesthetics,” explains Dresner. “It’s about practical issues like irrigation, drainage, pest management, soil and fertilization.”

A well thought out plan combines the elements of good design–line, form, texture, scent and color–with a distinct process to fully incorporate the needs of the homeowner with the realities of the land.

The design process begins with a base map of the existing site followed by a site analysis diagram that indicated such things as weather and circulation patterns, orientation of the house, problem areas and more. Linda Engstrom, APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), stresses circulation. “How are you going to walk through the space? What will you do there? A good designer will talk to the client about space usage and utilization to come up with a design that is as practical as it is aesthetic.”

Next comes a concept sketch where the shapes of planting areas and hardscape elements are roughed in. “I use a grid system developed from taking proportions off the house to create a unified design,” says Engstrom. After the client review of the concept sketch, the final plan is drawn up complete with planting list and perspective drawings to aid in visualization; instructions on installation and maintenance are also included.

“Obviously, there’s a good deal more to designing a landscape than just choosing trees and shrubs and planting them,” says Dresner. “The essence of landscape design is combining skill with artistic ability.” And it goes beyond plantings. Most designers can also assist with structures – like patios and arbors – and outdoor lighting of trees and shrubs for dramatic effect.

Good landscaping design can transform the outside of a house and separate it from the “me too” homes in the neighborhood. It will also say something distinctive about who lives there.

National Garden Clubs (NGC) is a not-for-profit educational organization with its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. It is composed of 50 State Garden Clubs and the National Capital Area, 6,218 member garden clubs and 198,595 members.