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Landscaping and Garden Design

Welcome to an Internet based resource for Landscaping and Garden Design

Capability Brown - A painting from the National Portrait Gallery, LondonWe all like to see great landscaping and garden design in operation, whether it is in a public park, private garden open to the public or our own little piece of the planet.

Landscaping and Garden Design could be defined as: The art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes.

Landscape and garden design may be carried out by the land or garden owner themselves, or by landscape and garden design professionals with varying levels of experience and expertise. Most professional landscape garden designers are trained in principles of design and in arboriculture and horticulture, and have a knowledge and experience of using trees, shrubs, plants and features. Some professional garden designers are also landscape architects, a more formal level of training that usually requires a horticultural degree. Many amateur gardeners also attain a high level of skill and experience from extensive hours working in their own gardens, through reading and casual study or college classes.

Private garden owners over the last century have shown an increasing interest in landscape and garden design, mainly as enthusiasts of gardening as a hobby, as well as an expansion in the use of professional garden designers and information being passed on through the TV and press media.

There are not many gardeners who haven't heard of famous landscape gardeners like Capability Brown or Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West.

The primary consideration in landscaping and garden design is how the garden will be used, followed closely by the desired stylistic genres, and the way the garden space will connect to the home or other structures in the surrounding areas. All of these considerations are measured and subjected to the limitations of the budgetary and time constraints for the particular project. Budget limitations can be addressed by a simpler more basic garden style with fewer plants and less costly hardscape materials, seeds rather than turf for lawns, and plants that grow quickly; alternately, land or garden owners may choose to create their landscape or garden over time, developing area by area, putting no more into each section than could be easily handled or afforded all at one time.

We will be developing sections with attention to: The elements or ingredients of garden design; Selecting locations for particular features, trees or plants; Soil conditioning; Boundaries; Hedges; Walls; Fencing; Alternative Surfacing; Water features; Garden Furniture; Power, electricity and lighting in the garden.

In discussing the elements of landscaping and garden design - Any garden, whether designed by a professional or an amateur, certain basic principles form the grounds for effective garden design, essentially resulting in the creation of gardens to meet the needs, goals and desires of the users or owners of the land or garden.

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A well designed garden or landscape, tailored to your own particular needs, will not only be beautiful and productive, but will give you and your family pleasure throughout the year. Traditionally, landscape and garden designers as well as architects have used pencil and paper to plot the position of plants and other landscape features. Landscape design software has become a popular choice since the advent of the personal computer. THere are quite a few computer software packages on the market. We are going to try to find you some free packages that work! Yes we did say FREE!

Elements of basic landscape and garden design include the layout of the 'hard' landscape, such as drives, paths, walls, water features, picnic, barbeque or seating areas and recently decking; as well as the trees, shrubs and plants themselves, bearing in mind the horticultural requirements, their seasonal appearance, lifespan, size, growth habit, speed of growth, and combinations with other plants and landscape features.

Consideration is also given to the maintenance needs of the garden, including the time or funds available for regular maintenance, which can affect the choices of plants regarding speed of growth, spreading or self-seeding of the plants, whether annual or perennial, and bloom-time, and many other characteristics.

Selecting a location for a new garden - The main decision when constructing a garden is where to make it. Many of the great gardens in the history and today often include: a location that is topographically significant, a suitable microclimate for plants, a well-designed connection to water, and rich soil. However, a good garden design, which is well-planned and constructed, can boost up the value of the garden more than just its location.

Soil conditioning - In a newly landscaped area or garden, freshly excavated subsoil and topsoil need to be managed and depending on ratio of aggregate, sand, clay and humus balances need to be created. Of course soil acidity or alkalinity should be taken into account as well bearing in mind the existing native soil. When planting container grown trees, shrubs and plants be sure to establish an area twice the size high and wide of any plant potential root ball size. Also, in conditioning the soil thoroughly before planting anything enables the plant to establish itself quickly and so play their part in the garden design. Since it is likely that native plants prefer an impoverished soil, the closer to their natural habitat they are in the garden, the better, a poor soil is probably better to manage than a rich soil that has been artificially managed.

Boundaries - The character and look of the landscape or garden can be greatly influenced by the boundary limits. Clever planting can be used to modify the boundary line or a line between an area of rough grass, meadow and lawn, depending on the size of the plot. Introducing internal boundaries, perhaps in the form of hedges or group of shrubs, can help break up a large garden.

Hedges - The hedges vary their colours throughout the seasons dramatically. The hedges, being strong features in a garden, are often used to divide sections of the larger garden. However, since they use the moisture and nutrient from the garden soil to grow as well as other plants, they may not necessarily be a good choice and could bring a negative influence or effect to the other plants.

Walls - Besides the boundaries that are made up of plants like the hedges, walls made up of various materials can be built between regions. There are broadly three types of walling material: stone, either random or coursed, brick, and concrete in its various forms. It is good to determine what colour, size, and texture will be most appropriate for the garden before actually building the wall.

Fencing - According to many designers, fencing can offer an alternative solution if the walls are too solid for the region of the garden. There are several numbers of fence types that can be used for a garden: animal-proof fence for country situations, peep-proof fences for the suburbs, and urban fences that provide shelter from the winds in exposed roof-top gardens and create internal barriers.

Alternative Surfacing - Usually, a smooth expanse of lawn is often considered essential to a modern garden. However, a textured surface made up of loose gravel, small pebbles, or wood chips may be much more satisfactory visually than a smooth surface. Creating a relaxed feel to the garden is often achieved by loose surfacing of bark chips, pebbles, gravels; also, the various textures, shapes, sizes, colours, and materials of many different paving elements can contribute to making a garden plan pattern and texture, if they are mixed successfully.

Water - Water plays a very important role in the garden since wet conditions foster rampant growth of the plants. Water taps and pipes throughout the garden are helpful in providing a wide range of wild life and plant habitats. The water pipes must be placed below the frost line in order to avoid them from freezing in cold weathers.

Garden Furniture - The garden furniture is available in a range of materials, and it may be more creative than without furniture and by making use of it. It offers to explore how things can be creative not just being visual in the gardens. The wood is the most common material to make the garden furniture. Besides the wooden furniture, metal can be sometimes a better choice than the wooden ones since it is more durable than wood. Also, more creative sources like plastic can be used.

Electrical Outlets - If there is a lead to the pond pump or a fridge in a summerhouse, electrical outlets should be established so they can function in the garden. The cables for all these power outlets must be laid before the construction of the garden begins. At the depth mandated by local building codes, three phase armoured direct-burial cables can be laid in a marked or known situation such as just beside a path.

Natural and artificial lighting - Since most plants require direct light for their growth, lighting is an important factor to consider when designing a garden. Light regulates three major plant processes: photosynthesis, phototropism, and photoperiodism. Photosynthesis provides the energy required to produce the energy source of plants. Phototropism is the effect of light on plant growth that causes the plant to grow toward or away from the light. Photoperiodism is a plant’s response or capacity to respond to photoperiod, a recurring cycle of light and dark periods of constant length. In most cases, various types of lighting techniques may be classified and defined by heights: safety lighting, uplighting, and downlighting. Safety lighting is the most practical application. However, it is more important to determine the type of lamps and fitting s needed to create the desired effects.

Computer-aided garden design - Computer-aided garden design describes the use of CAD packages to ease and improve the process of garden design. Professional garden designers tend to use CAD packages designed for other professions. This includes architectural design software for the drafting of garden plans, 3-D software and image-editing software for visual representation. But tailor-made computer-aided design software is made for the amateur garden design market. It contains some of the functionality of the more advanced programs, packaged in an easy-to-use format.

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