From just a few carefully selected planters to a major architectural overhaul, landscape design can drastically alter the aesthetic and ambience of any outdoor space. Be it a private garden or commercial space, the right design can achieve anything from deeper relaxation to increased productivity and even improved health. In Orlando, Florida, we’re lucky enough to experience year-round warm temperatures and, on average, spend much more time outside than residents of many other US states. As a result, landscape design is often considered to be of even greater importance to us Sunshine State-dwellers. Here’s how you can put some of the principles of great design to work in your outdoor space.
What Is Landscape Design?
In general, the field of landscape design spans a number of areas but is primarily concerned with the layout and structure of outdoor spaces. These spaces can be gardens, city parks, courtyards, outdoor seating areas, public walkways and hotels. The visual impact of landscape designs are usually given preference, but the discipline is far more scientific than many people realize; a very detailed understanding of horticulture, engineering, climates, geography and topography are required in order to be an expert in the field. A competent designer or design team will be equipped to create structures that are simultaneously functional, visually attractive and fit for purpose.
Creating a beautiful garden or open space in Florida might seem like a job for any international landscape designer; in reality, there are many special considerations to understand when designing for a specific location. Florida, for example, is known for its low rainfall. While that is one of the state’s more attractive qualities, plants are not so impressed with the lack of frequent rainwater. As a result, designers will use plants that are tolerant to low water environments, or fit an efficient and cost-effective irrigation system to accommodate different plants. Similarly, coastal areas will require plants that can withstand salt and higher wind levels. The natural soil type in your area will dictate the types of plants that can thrive without extensive intervention. An experienced landscape designer will take soil samples to determine its quality and suitability before finalizing a planting scheme.
Creating a stunning outdoor space is only part of the concern for a landscape designer; the rest of the job is focused on maintenance. Most of the homeowners, business owners and local governments that use landscape designers prefer to have an end result that can be easily maintained without expensive routine work or highly skilled procedures. Simple principles can help to keep gardens hassle-free. For example, plants are generally crowded tightly together to stop weeds growing in gaps. Trees that have smaller leaves (like Florida favorites the Marlberry and Groundsel Trees) don’t require frequent raking in the fall. Similarly, slow-growing varieties like the Paurotis Palm and Scrub Palmetto, often seen in Orlando, can be dispersed between faster-growing species such as Honeysuckle and American Wisteria.
More Than Just Plants
Modern landscape design is not just about planting. Designers must now fuse together different building materials, like wood and cast iron, with ground coverings such as decking or paving slabs. Many designs will also feature running water which, if fitted correctly, will recycle its water supply and negate the need for an expensive water bill. Extra features like bird tables and statues can add further focal points and functionality. Outdoor seating is also fundamental to good design and must be carefully placed in relation to the movement of the sun and surrounding plants or features. For example, a seating area intended for lunchtime use will work best when placed under larger trees (for shade) and aromatic plants that will be in flower during the peak season. The viewpoint from outdoor seating areas is also important to landscape designers, giving garden users the best aspect from which to enjoy the design.
Whether you plan to hire a professional or take on your own project, learning the basic principles of good Florida landscape design is essential in order to create a functional, attractive and evolving outdoor space.