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Design Dilemmas


Modern garden design in formal style

Modern garden design in formal style

WHETHER a garden is designed by a professional or an amateur, certain principles form the basis of effective garden design, resulting in the creation of gardens to meet the needs, goals and desires of owners of the gardens.

Elements of garden design include the layout of hard landscape, such as paths, walls, water features, sitting areas and decking; as well as the plants themselves, with consideration for their horticultural needs, their season-to-season appearance, lifespan, growth, and combinations with other plants and landscape features. Consideration is also given to the maintenance needs of the garden, including the time or funds available for regular maintenance, which can affect the choice of plants in terms of speed of growth, spreading or self-seeding of the plants, whether annual or perennial, and bloom-time, and many other characteristics.

Important considerations in garden design include how the garden will be used, the desired stylistic genre (formal or informal, modern or traditional etc), and the way the garden space will connect to the home or other structures in the surrounding areas. All of these considerations are subject to the limitations of the prescribed budget.

Most home owners have some idea of the features they would like to have in their gardens and how they want to use them, yet they are often unsure of their choices and how to put it all together in an appealing and functional garden.

A landscape designed around a theme has identifiable characteristics, such as specific built features, distinguishing materials, a signature form, and recognizable spatial organization. Many themes are culturally historic and very well defined, such as traditional Italian or Japanese gardens. They have been used for centuries in a particular culture and are easily identified. Other themes are newer, less defined, and although they have identifiable characteristics, they tend to have several variations.

For example, a minimalist garden, which is a simple design, can be different forms of types, including formal, urban, tropical or desert.

Using a design theme is helpful because most of the decisions that must be made about landscape are already made – they are inherent in the theme. A design theme can be based on a form, a style, a type of landscape, or a combination of any of the three.

One important distinction is that all landscapes have a form because everything has a form, but not all landscapes have an identifiable style or type.

Applying Theme To Design

Once you have identified a theme, decide which features to incorporate in your garden. You can use a few features to give a hint of the theme, or you can replicate the theme in its entirety. First decide on the form to use in the hardscape and possibly in the shape of the planted areas. Next, arrange the forms in different layouts to try different concepts until you have a spatial organization that is functional and aesthetic. This is referred to as creating outdoor rooms, where different spaces in the garden – such as a patio, lawn area, and play area – represent rooms. Once the spatial organization is finalized, the details of the design can be added.

The design theme may have a particular color or combination associated with it, or you may need to choose a color theme. The color could be inspired by the plant material or ornamental features such as pottery or sculptures. Materials must also be decided upon. For example, the theme may call for brick or wood for more traditional themes, or metal and cut stone for more contemporary themes. Built structures may include arbors, trellises, and garden houses, which could be ‘‘old fashioned” or modern in style. The types of plants are also important – a traditional theme may use plants found in old neighbourhoods, while contemporary theme might use new cultivars and plants with unusual shapes and colors. Other details include ornaments and decorative elements and lighting.

Urban Gardens

City gardens have to tick lots of boxes, providing outdoor space for planting, relaxation, play and entertaining. Usually in a relatively small area, they need clever designs to make them work well. Most urban gardens become functional spaces of plant-filled havens into which you can escape hectic city life. They often feature minimal design and repeated patterns for maximum effect.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardens

Wildlife-friendly gardens feature plants and structures that attract native wildlife, such as birds, beneficial insects and small mammals. Logpiles, hedgehog boxes, bird baths, bee hotels and more all help to bring wildlife that is interesting to watch, and which will help the gardener by keeping down pests such as slugs and aphids. Many plants are attractive to pollinating insects and you can have a wildlife-friendly garden however, big or small your outside space is.

Mediterranean gardens can be formal or informal, and take their inspiration from the shrubby vegetation of the hot, dry climates of the south of France, Italy and Spain. Gravel is often used between drifts of drought-tolerant plants.

Formal Gardens have a balanced design symmetry and a clear floor plan. Their hard and soft landscaping will have a geometric structure, often around a central feature. But despite its grand origins, this style adapts well to gardens of any size, even tiny urban spaces.

Contemporary Gardens

Crisp, clean lines are an intrinsic part of contemporary design, which can be applied to either small or larger gardens. Equally important is the use of space, geometric layout and the absence of too many fussy details and clutter. This all add up to a garden that could be the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle – dynamic yet relaxing.

Materials tend to be natural and timeless such as stone, slate and wood, and plants become just one part of the architecture – think clipped hedges, specimen trees and simple blocks of planting. Water is often used to create reflection, movement or sound.

Contemporary garden design prompts us to approach an outdoor space the same way we might do on interior design project. If it is referred by the concept, the minimalist garden design and the minimalist house design have the same principle of the concept, which is characterized by the presence of the vertical and horizontal lines of the minimalist house and garden. Contemporary garden design increasingly focuses on turning an outdoor space into an extension of our living area that fits better with modern lifestyle.

The term ‘‘outdoor room” is often used to coin this approach to modern garden design and it works well now modern materials and products give us the same set of choices – floor surfaces, seating, lighting, décor etc. As property prices have increased over recent years, people have begun to utilize outdoor areas more inventively with tiny urban courtyards being turned into intimate cafe style gardens and green terraces increasingly replacing any unutilized roof space.
Whatever your tastes and lifestyle, there will be a garden design style to suit you.

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