How to assess your needs from your Landscape and Garden Design?
What could be common between your house lot and New York City?
Believe it or not, a backyard. Only, New York’s got an 843-acre backyard.
Sprawling lawns, serene water bodies, picturesque woodlands, walking trails, formal gardens, a zoo, and landscaped plazas. More than a park, this space is an amalgamation of activities ideal for people of all ages, creating the perfect setting for recreation, rejuvenation, and refreshment. New York’s 843-acre backyard has much to teach us about beautiful, functional, and sustainable landscaping.
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park in 1858 as a recreational getaway from the chaos of the City. The expanse of the site was meticulously developed to incorporate a variety of landscapes and experiences through the practice that would come to be known as ‘Landscape Architecture.’
The architects’ founding vision for the Park was driven by the recreational needs of a people caught in the monotony of vertical urbanism that was fast rendering a concrete jungle. The City needed a space to breathe; and the people, a peaceful space to lose and find themselves in.
The dynamic design of spaces in the Park caters to the individual needs of its diverse users as well as collective recreational needs. There are spaces for quiet reflection, reading, or admiring the surrounding scenery. There are trails for exploration and discovery, play areas for the younger generation, sweeping lawns for concerts, and grand plazas for formal gatherings. The use of long-lasting and easy-to-maintain materials, conducive plant species, and preservation of areas rich in biodiversity on-site have all contributed to the sustainability of the Park.
Once you have made your base plan to assess what you have in your lot, it is now time to think about what you want from the space you plan to landscape. Ask yourself crucial questions about the users, division of spaces in your garden or lot, and the function you want to achieve. This will help in making a list of all your activities and space requirements.
Picture yourself and your family using the garden. Do you want an outdoor living area? Or an extended outdoor lounge? What will you use it for? Entertaining guests, dining, cooking…with a nice garden barbeque perhaps? A patio, deck or grassed area and some sturdy outdoor furniture would be appropriate for such uses. Would you like to create a nook or a cosy corner for spending bright sunny days with your family? Think of tall grasses, fragrant flowering plants and a beautiful outdoor swing, maybe?
Consider the different activities that would require functional spaces in your garden. Do you want a vegetable or fruit garden, or just an everyday kitchen garden? Where would you plant your flowers? Would the children like an outdoor play area or a small court for some sport, or a kennel if you’ve got a pet? Or, are there pets or other animals you need to keep out of the garden? You could consider installing a fence.
Think about the kinds of trees you want to plant. Do you want to attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife? If so, plan to use lots of trees and shrubs, including fruiting ones, in your landscape design. Do you need more shade in the garden? You could consider a large shade tree, a wooden pergola or even a summery patio umbrella.
The maintenance of the garden is another important consideration. For a low-maintenance landscape, consider having a small lawn, placing trees, shrubs and ground covers in mulched planting beds and using plants that are well-adapted to your site conditions. Improperly designed plantings often require a lot of maintenance. If you plan any substantial landscape changes in the future – like adding a pond, badminton court or greenhouse, for example – reserve space now so you won’t have to move plants or structures later.
Most importantly, consider how much you can afford to spend on home landscaping. Many landscape architects recommend investing about 10 per cent of a house’s value on the landscaping around it, although an acceptable landscape can be accomplished for much less. To reduce costs, you can buy small plants and get do-it-yourself construction plans for patios, walks, decks and other structures. Even though your budget may limit your landscaping activities now, consider everything you want to accomplish eventually in your present planning.
Once you have gained a thorough understanding of your requirements and how they influence the scheme of your garden design, it is time to understand at length what goes into planning outdoor areas of use in your garden.
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About the Writer
Reva Saksena is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal. She has experience working at SiteLens Cultural Research Division of India Lost and Found (ILF) by Amit Pasricha. She is the winner of the "2021 Berkeley Prize Essay Competition.”
About the Editor
Srishti Mehta is the author of "From the Land of Mist and Snow: Haikus from Antarctica". She is a creative writer, editor and publisher. She is the Editor-in-Chief at Zeyka. She is a graduate of the St. Xavier College, Ahmedabad, and the H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, University of Mumbai (MU). She has been the India Ambassador of the International Antarctica Expedition (2018) with 2041 Foundation. She has diverse volunteer experience in natural field studies, explorations, and journalism with numerous organisations including the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai.
About the Illustrator
Shruti Bhagwat is an undergraduate architecture student at the Sir J.J. School of Architecture. Shruti has a keen eye for art, design and detail and a passion for books and movies. As the head of public relations for her college, she has organised and hosted multiple events for the institute’s talk series- ‘Manan.’ She was a finalist of Spacematrix’s Designathon 2020.