Landscaping refers to the modification of land around the home for both aesthetic and practical reasons. In the old days, it was common to see landscapes chaotically altered for various purposes without a proper plan or design in place. For instance, to make way for mismatched planting of herbs and vegetables to sustain or supply a household.
Landscaping has had many influences and changes over the centuries, drawn from the many different civilisations – such that we have a plethora of landscape areas and designs to choose from today.
Modern landscaping is just as personal as the predecessors that inspired it, but thankfully employs much more planning and consideration. With landscape architects and designers each taking on large and small projects, a landscape is made to reflect what it surrounds i.e., the essence and style of the landscape should be incorporated in a way that makes the landscape feel “at home.”
There is no right or wrong approach or method to landscaping. There are infinite design possibilities and multiple solutions that can be applied to create a beautiful, functional, and environmentally-beneficial landscape or garden design – one that both intrigues and calms the senses through the inclusion of fragrant plants and a variety of materials of different colours and textures.
Benefits of landscaping
Why should you consider landscaping?
Residential and commercial landscaping in the modern day offers added, environmentally-sustainable benefits than just the old notion of practicality. From well-manicured lawns to pretty flower beds, here is a condensed list of nifty perks landscaping can bring you.
A well-designed landscape is a creative outlet that improves the design and curb appeal of small and large properties. A gorgeous, inviting landscape also appeals as a sanctuary in that it encourages a sense of calm and awe.
It requires more tending to, but grass undeniably cools temperatures more than asphalt or cement – and even bare soil! Grass is a natural coolant that can be up to 31 degrees and 20 degrees cooler than asphalt or bare soil, respectively.
A combination of grass and foliage can bring down temperatures by as much as 40 degrees, providing much-needed relief from hot and humid weather.
Plants offer the dual benefit of reducing noise and air pollution. While some of us may be used to the noise from living in the city, others may still prefer a quieter environment most of the time.
Plants heavy with foliage and a dense root system have been proven to provide an almost 30% noise reduction in residential areas. This is compared to hardscapes such as concrete and pavement, which don’t absorb sounds.
Plants also function as organic air purifiers that can be placed both outdoors and indoors – they have the ability to cycle and naturally remove a variety of airborne toxins, including household pollutants such as carbon monoxide. These protective plants come in many shapes, forms, and colours – the bamboo palm, Boston fern, spider plant, and even plain grass, are just some examples that will lend your landscape a subtle sense of functionality as well as visual appeal.
You may find it useful to cultivate plants as a landscaping solution for areas with stagnant water or drainage issues. Some plants do well in damp, moist conditions compared to others, and can make for excellent absorbers of excess water or unclean and harmful runoff that might otherwise filter into bodies of water.
Delineates property lines
Nowadays, landed housing developments are shifting towards vegetation to mark the border between houses, instead of privacy fences. Plants such as evergreen shrubs, flowering shrubs, and hedges are a much more natural and attractive alternative than plain wood or brick – besides the aesthetics and privacy offered, certain types of hedges can even act as a buffer and protect your home against noise and air pollution.
If your property sits on a large, open area you can opt to plant trees to mark your boundary lines. Flowering trees are often a practical addition to landscaping as they provide shade and shield against strong winds, while still looking lovely.
Always be sure to maintain plants, hedges, or trees used as a boundary between properties, lest they grow unchecked and become unruly.
Landscape designs, especially those concerned with residential landscaping, are largely personal. These designs are fashioned in their own way for a multitude of reasons, including for relaxation or play. To do this, landscape designs can borrow styles from anywhere – either from a tropical garden paradise, a serene woodland, or a shady rainforest retreat.
It just takes a few clicks to find plentiful themed landscape designs that also address various land issues. Uneven terrain, narrow and limited space, and poor drainage are just a few of the landscape challenges that can influence landscape design.
Your landscape design might also be determined by other unseen problems, such as the need to block out noise and gusty winds, create a kid-friendly space or establish your own private space.
Whatever it is, you can breathe life into any barren piece of land via landscaping, and, truth to be told, creating a practical haven that winds through the landscape should not be impossible as long as all the chosen style elements can work together.
Here are some examples of landscape designs for you to get inspired by. These designs are not confined to any particular theme yet look stunning and remain functional – we’ll go into how you can replicate these landscaping ideas soon after.
Process of landscaping
As exciting as landscaping can seem, it is just as likely to overwhelm the undertaker who will need to sort through a mound of daunting tasks – it doesn’t have to be difficult, though, as the process of landscaping can be broken down into two distinct and simple phases: design and construction.
The designing phase consists of researching, gathering ideas, and planning. During this phase, you can work with a landscape designer to address residential design considerations, which include hardscapes and softscapes designs. Thereafter, you will receive a completed landscape plan that proposes a budget as well as materials for your landscape.
The construction phase comes right after and follows closely with the proposed plan. At the end of construction, after testing and cleaning by landscape contractors, you will have an attractive outdoor living area that’s ready for you to enjoy with friends and family.
However, should you decide to forgo the services of landscape professionals and instead make modifications to your outdoor area yourself, the following suggests several considerations for your landscape design.
Principles of landscaping
Regardless of whether you wish to transform a small or large outdoor area with landscaping, pleasing and comfortable landscapes are of foremost importance in landscape design. Fortunately, the essential principles of landscape design, as used by trained professionals, can be easily learned by the regular homeowner to create a stunning landscape.
Simplicity and proportion
When planning your landscape vision for outdoor living spaces, first prioritise important elements over those that won’t enhance the overall design – the chosen elements should also be in proportion to other elements in your outdoor living area.
In short, an element is “out of proportion” when it doesn’t relate to its intended use. For example, a tree that’s poorly placed and substantially larger than everything else in a small yard will be jarring and draw the eyes away from the rest of the garden.
Checking for these details earlier on will ensure that the final design turns out clean and is not overwhelmed with unnecessary details.
Consider using various elements, from plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs to outdoor furniture, lighting, and water features, according to the space layout of your landscape design. Generating visual interest through a diverse selection of shapes, sizes, colours, and textures, combined with choice distribution, can prevent your landscape design from becoming stagnant and mundane.
TIP: You can use colourful flowers to make a small landscape area seem larger than it actually is. Play with the illusion of depth with warm- and cool-coloured flowers. Flowers with warm colours can be placed in the foreground of garden beds, followed by flowers with cool colours (start with darker shades and continue with shades that are successively lighter).
You can also mimic the illusion of depth with non-flowering plants. Simply place the larger plant in front, tapering off the size of your plants as you go further in.
Balance and emphasis
Balance refers to the visual weight of your landscape design that should ultimately feel even throughout. While your landscape design is entirely up to you, it is ideal to keep the formal balance (symmetrical) elements from overpowering the informal balance (asymmetrical) elements, and vice versa.
A well-designed landscape also depends on the balance between its hardscapes and softscapes. Hardscapes refer to the non-living elements in your outdoor living area such as pottery, bricks, and stones, while softscapes refer to the living, growing elements, including flowers, plants, and moss.
Recently, landscape designers take to boldly accentuated a particular element in their landscape design – it is expected to lead the eye to a focal element and eventually settle as it moves through the rest of the design.
All the elements of your landscape design that complement and work in harmony with each other mark the end of a landscaping makeover. You’ll know you’ve achieved unity when no part of your design feels out of place.
Hardscapes and softscapes examples
As a recap, the “hardscape” refers to all of the non-living elements in landscaping, such as the gravel path, cement patio, metal gates, or outdoor seating like wooden furniture; whereas the “softscape” consists of all the living and organic elements in a landscape such as flowers in a variety of colours, green plants, natural or artificial grass, and so on.
Hardscapes and softscapes are usually included together to balance out a landscape design, and vice versa. You’ll notice how hardscape elements can both complement softscape elements or provide a visual contrast of their own: stone walkways stand out on grassy lawns, outdoor kitchen areas provide contrast when nestled among shrubs, while a ceramic fountain or lily pond amongst potted plants never fails to draw the eye.
Of the various types of hardscape options available, only select materials that suit certain landscapes – a failsafe choice would be incorporating small, natural stones to decorate your outdoor space, as they are easy to obtain, inexpensive, and durable; arranging these stones in straight lines can also avoid a cluttered look.
Plants, in contrast, help soften the straight edges of a hardscape. For example, flowering plants placed along a patio or driveway is a common trick used to belie an inviting atmosphere.
Landscape lighting concerns techniques and methods that bring forth a specific mood in a landscape, or accentuate the architecture of the home. Just like a museum display, a properly-lit landscape allows you to highlight focal points such as a particular plant or fountain, light up a walkway or driveway for safety and enhanced security, and establish an ambience that’s uniquely yours.
There are many different outdoor lighting options that serve to illuminate different aspects of your landscape, including lighting for the patio, lawn, driveway, flower beds, ponds, or swimming pool. The easiest of all these to install and maintain are string lights, which can beautifully upgrade the look of your landscape.
You can try attaching regular diffused lights to trees and aim them down onto your patio for a subtle moonlight effect.
Over-lighting a driveway creates a glaring runway-like effect that can sometimes strain the eye. Minimal lighting at the entryway should be enough to safely guide drivers.
Hide subdued white or coloured lights among rocks or place an underwater light near a waterfall to enjoy the ripple effects at night.
When you’re housing a pet, considerations of curious sniffing, licking, or nibbling should ostensibly be included in your landscaping plans, especially if it includes a garden space for pets. Although it seems harmless at a glance, certain types of plants can sometimes cause an upset stomach or diarrhoea if ingested, or skin irritation if touched – unfortunately, some plants can also be fatal to your fur-friends.
Cats and dogs are affected differently by different foliage or flowering plants which are neither toxic nor poisonous to humans, so choose to fill your landscape with only non-toxic varieties of plants. Besides being safe for pets, occasionally tending to a garden can still help calm you down or boost creativity, as necessary.
The areca or butterfly palm thrives in warm temperatures and high humidity. The tall and fancy fronds of the areca palm require minimal watering and light maintenance but are most importantly safe for both you and your pet.
This Japanese flowering plant can easily become the centrepiece of your garden landscape with its rounded petals and rich, dark green leaves. Camellias require a little more care than most garden plants – thankfully, both camellia leaves and flowers are non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Although herbs can be grown indoors, those looking to incorporate herbs as part of their landscape design can grow varieties such as basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, sage, and cilantro, which are all pet-friendly and functional to a maximum degree. To care for these herbs, you will require well-aerated soil as well as ample moisture.
The vibrant marigolds are an unsuspecting insect repellant, and, even if the scent of the colourful flowers entice your pet, is unlikely to be harmful. Marigolds are also suited to Equatorial temperatures, and can grow alongside the herbs in your vegetable garden patch.
Also known as the ribbon plant because of its ribbon-like fronds, the spider plant is a hanging plant variety resistant to the ministrations of pets. This popular and hardy plant can occupy empty vertical space in your home. It just needs bright sunlight and liberal watering on warm, sunny days, and can be easily propagated from its shoots.
Myths about landscaping
Myth #1: Lawns are optional
A landscaping design that incorporates a thriving lawn is more valuable than you might think: healthy grass is essential to a healthy environment, as are plants that clean the air by capturing dust and pollutants.
Healthy lawns also foster healthy work and play – it’s where adults can go to relax, where kids can play games, and where pets can frolic freely.
Myth #2: Pesticides are to be avoided
Pesticides can be beneficial for plant health when used accordingly. The proper use of pesticides provides a science-approved solution to ward off pests and disease and ensure the natural elements of a landscape can function to their full environmental benefit.
Myth #3: All landscapes are equal
Healthy landscapes – both hardscapes and softs capes – are well-maintained so as to contribute to the local ecosystem and the environment. Although gratifying, they each do, however, require significant and time-consuming work before results become visible.
By now, you should be able to gather that sustainable landscapes is the way to go for an ideal and visibly attractive upgrade to your home. With the right tools and ample time, it’s possible to keep your landscape from looking drab and boring and instead become the talk of the town.
Try a quick landscaping idea today – maybe shift some flower pots around in your yard, or add some inexpensive string or fairy lights for a hint of ethereal and refreshing style.