Landscaping is often a lower priority when building a new home, because lets’ face it, you do not have to have a beautiful landscape to cook your meals, keep you dry and give you a good nights rest. For that, you need a functional kitchen, a good roof and a bedroom.
Landscaping is primarily an aesthetic consideration. It appeals to our sense of beauty and refinement, much like a fine wine adds to an elegant, romantic dinner. We do not have to have it to survive, but it certainly can add to our enjoyment and to the quality of life that we are living.
So, what is the best way to address our needs for landscaping? The most effective way is to follow a similar path that you take when you build a home, or buy an existing home.
PLANNING . . . . You must assess your needs and design spaces that will most appropriately respond to those needs. Ask yourself some questions. Are you an outdoor person who spends as much time as possible outdoors or are you an indoor person who’s outside experiences are limited to traversing the distance between your car and the front entrance.
If you fall into the outdoor category, then list your outdoor activities and see how many are possible around your home, and throughout your property. The western slope has such a diversity of experiences available, from breathtaking views to hidden alcoves. It just takes a little imagination to discover the possibilities.
The best way to begin is to define your property as a series of spaces, which include the front, the sides and rear of the house. These major spaces may break down into several smaller spaces depending on the contour of the land and existing vegetation. You can define these spaces further by circulation ways and the placement of vegetation. Certain vegetation can be used for definition and screening and others can be used for accent or focal points, much like sculpture or furniture is used on the interior of the home.
If you are not an outdoor person, then the most important consideration might be what you see as you make the approach to your house by car and on foot. You may be only interested in the setting of the house and its’ “curb appeal”. This is equally important, because it is the landscape that softens the hard edges of a structure and makes the transition to the chaotic order that is nature.
For the optimum landscape, one that will provide the most overall enjoyment and function, it is best to imagine yourself as an indoor and outdoor person and respond to both needs. This way you will have the best of both worlds, a landscape that is both pleasing to view and functional for a myriad of activities. If you do not spend much time outside, then at the very least you can view these wonderfully landscaped spaces from the interior privacy of your home or decks.
The good news is that a properly thought out and well designed landscape will add much more to the value of your home than the original investment. Try to take a big picture perspective that encompasses both short term and long term goals for your home, and develop a Master Landscape Plan. The time you spend in planning will provide you years of enjoyment and appreciation for the time spent. As you implement the different elements of this plan over time, you can rest assured that it will all fit together, beautifully, because you have thought it out beforehand. You will not be plagued with poorly planned elements, caused by ill conceived walkways and plant material that out grows the space before its’ time.
Understanding your needs and responding to those needs with a well thought out Master Landscape Plan is essential to a successful landscape design.