Landscaping

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Landscaping Design Trends for 2012 and beyond

Posted on March 28, 2012 02:11 AM

Less Lawn & More Planting

As people all over the world become more environmentally aware, it is likely that contemporary landscaping design will favour less lawn and more planting. It is a simple fact that a well-manicured lawn consumes a great deal of energy, both in terms of the gardener working on it, and in the larger environmental sense! By decreasing the amount of lawn we feature in garden and landscape design, we can not only reduce fumes from gasoline-powered lawn mowers, but we can also reduce water useage from irrigating those lawns, and increase the native butterfly and bee populations too.

Less Symmetry & More Natural

In planting trends in landscaping, it is likely people will choose to move closer to nature and away from the more regimented, formal and symmetrical landscaping architecture. Once again there are environmental concerns – more natural planting and design simply uses less energy, in build and in upkeep, and native and natural plants are more likely to attract the right wildlife and insect life to the landscape around it.

Less Grasses & More Shrubs

The trend for prairie planting has lasted for a good decade, and many landscaping architects and landscape designers have experimented with grasses in their planting design, sometimes successfully, and sometimes – in smaller suburban spaces - with less successful results. It is likely that over the next year or so landscape designers will rediscover the joy of planting more scented, structural and flowering shrubs.

The Growth of Organic Gardening

Real organic gardening plays to the current trends for recycling and self-sufficiency (not just a refusal to use chemical weedkillers!). The belief that we no longer need to be dependent on huge multinational corporations is encouraging a more savvy awareness of our own efforts at organic living, ‘growing your own’ and home sourcing. And these trends are reaching into landscaping too – with a return to old fashioned values and an innate respect of the ‘natural’ organic flow of landscapes - cleaner, calmer, more free flowing.

Topiary

Despite the likely trend towards returning to more natural planting, it is likely too that topiary will see resurgence in our landscape gardens and landscape design. After all, it is one design feature that is free to create! It may even be viewed as an ‘organic’ way of controlling and cultivating our landscape.

Growing Your Own

There is no doubt, grow your own is just getting bigger and bigger. As more young gardeners and young families are enthused by growing their own food, queues for the UK’s allotments are still on the increase. And grow your own isn’t just about fruit and veg any more, keen gardeners are looking at growing grapes for wine and even keeping bees for honey (and growing plants for those bees to feed on too!). Community gardens are very much on the rise too – a factor that will become increasingly important to those landscape architects and landscaping designers working in the public sector.

Vertical Gardening

Expect to see more roof gardens in 2012 and 2013, and specifically more vegetable roof gardens. There will undoubtedly be an increase in urban agriculture projects in the UK – roof garden projects are already on the increase in some US cities including New York and Chicago (where green rooftops have become a common feature of landscaping). In fact, Chicago City Hall rooftop garden was designed to test the cooling effects of this kind of landscaping design, as well as being an experiment in how rooftop gardens can support plants, birds and insects in a city. London’s rooftops are set for transformation!

And finally, to conclude, there is no doubt that we need to look to other countries and other cultures in our landscaping design and landscape architecture. Not so much to move away from our native planting and natural looking gardens (we have already established they are here to stay), but more to share knowledge and best practice with other landscaping professionals. Knowledge sharing in horticulture, in design, in landscaping, in garden design and landscape architecture is incredibly valuable. Experiment and research, don’t sit on your gardening laurels!

The 3 disciplines of landscaping

Posted on January 18, 2012 07:18 AM

It is widely understood that the ‘landscape’ has six main compositional elements: the landform itself, vertical structures, horizontal structures, vegetation (or flora), water and climate. To take a scientific angle on it then, landscaping is - in essence - the art and science of arranging all these six elements to make a good outdoor space. One that works functionally AND aesthetically.

Where does landscape architecture become landscaping design? And how does garden design fit in to the equation too?

As a rule, landscape architecture is mainly focused on public spaces - urban planning, city and regional parks, civic and corporate landscapes, large scale interdisciplinary projects and so on. And by virtue of the fact landscape architecture concerns public spaces, it is of course generally much larger in scale, is a longer project in duration, and is implemented by many many contracts, rather than just one!

If landscape architects design the built environment of neighborhoods, towns and cities, they must also however, protect and manage the natural environment - from forests and fields to rivers and coasts. Landscape architects therefore have a responsibility to improve the quality of life of residents of that architecture, and that means all living things that reside there, not just people!

Landscape architects have to consider every facet of the landscape they are working on - their job covers the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of both natural and built environments. With this in mind, they have to be extremely well qualified, with years of study behind them and advanced degrees and qualifications.

Landscape designers do not have to have quite as many of these professional credentials. Landscaping design combines nature and culture and - in contemporary practice – is the middle ground between landscape architecture and garden design.

Landscaping design focuses on both the overall landscape planning of a property and the specific garden design of landscape elements and plants within it. Practical, aesthetic, horticultural and environmental factors are all considered to be subjects dealt within in the remit of landscape design, and landscaping designers often collaborate with related disciplines such as architecture and geography, soils and civil engineering, surveying, landscape contracting and botany.

There are a number of superb landscaping designers and/or landscape architects practising in the UK today – designers such as Tom Stuart Smith, Andy Sturgeon, Arabella Lennox Boyd and Randle Siddeley all have multiple designers and architects on their staff and specialise in delivering projects of any size, be it a huge residential development or a small, privately-owned London roof terrace.

Garden Design, the third related discipline of landscaping if you like, is a specialised branch of landscaping design, concerned with, mainly, domestic private space and privately owned things within that space too – such as furniture, outbuildings and so on. Garden design is therefore the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and garden landscapes. Garden design professionals can have varying levels of experience and expertise. But most professional garden designers are trained in principles of design and horticulture and have an expert knowledge and experience of using (and planting) plants.

Where these three disciplines of landscaping cross over is grey territory. There can be significant overlap of talents and skills, depending on the education, licensing, and experience of the professional. Both landscaping designers and landscape architects practice landscape design, and of course they sometimes design gardens too! Many landscape designers have an interest and involvement with gardening personally or professionally. Some integrate this scope with their design practice, informally or as licensed landscape contractors.

In summary, the three disciplines of landscaping are all connected by the ground they work with. They differ in scale enormously, but their joint job description is to better the environment around us, from small flower bed to city park and business park – and in essence make the UK a more functional (and beautiful) space.

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