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Landscape Design Tips: Thinking Like A Residential Landscape Designer

Updated on June 17, 2010

The Evolution of Landscape Design: Honing In On Your Inner Residential Landscape Designer Skills

Long gone are the glory days of the grass lawn. There was a time when having a perfect grass lawn was the top achievement of a proud homeowner. Today, landscapes have evolved into extraordinary design feats. They really are on an all new level. Hardscaping is just one of the factors driving the evolution of landscape design, and it is popularizing at a rapid rate.

Whether you desire to create small or large-scale landscape designs, you must take the time to plan ahead. Many landscapes, large and small, die away or "fail" within a relatively short period of time if they are not properly planned beforehand. There are many considerations you need to make, and a few common mistakes that you can avoid all together with a little research. Also remember that you can always consult with a local residential landscape designer about your landscaping plans. They can offer you expert advice about many aspects of landscape design.

These days Greek statues are looking a little cliche, and pieces like this modern obelisk are looking more appealing. This unique landscape ornament has a cool metallic surface that reflects the lush landscape design around it.
These days Greek statues are looking a little cliche, and pieces like this modern obelisk are looking more appealing. This unique landscape ornament has a cool metallic surface that reflects the lush landscape design around it.
This is another cool, modern landscape ornament. It's eye catching design draws attention and it's rounded shape is mirrored in the round, purple flower blooms of the bushes around it.
This is another cool, modern landscape ornament. It's eye catching design draws attention and it's rounded shape is mirrored in the round, purple flower blooms of the bushes around it.
This is an example of toning it down a notch with traditional backyard ornaments. Instead of having many of them there are only two, and instead of using the bright pink flamingo ornaments this homeowner uses a more subtle color.
This is an example of toning it down a notch with traditional backyard ornaments. Instead of having many of them there are only two, and instead of using the bright pink flamingo ornaments this homeowner uses a more subtle color.
Your inner residential landscape designer has to be loving this. Architectural elements can work wonders in landscapes. This pagoda is a little sanctuary in a lush backyard landscape design. Also try archways or small bridges with wood hand rails.
Your inner residential landscape designer has to be loving this. Architectural elements can work wonders in landscapes. This pagoda is a little sanctuary in a lush backyard landscape design. Also try archways or small bridges with wood hand rails.

Top Landscape Design Tips

Here are a few tips for creating beautiful and well-planned landscapes.

Variety
Today it is all about diversity. People want their landscapes to look beautiful year round. Therefore, they must choose a variety of plants for their landscapes. Some people make the mistake of using one plant throughout their entire lawn. This not only creates a one dimensional appearance, but it also means that your lawn will look barren when those plants are not in season.

Focal Points
Unless you want people's eyes to glaze over your lawn, you need to create some elements that are meant to immediately draw the eye into particular areas of the landscape. Having focal points creates movement and dynamism in landscapes. Picking one or two powerful or majestic looking pieces, whether they are plants or hardscaping elements, will add real beauty to your lawn. In a desert landscape design, for example, many people cover entire lawns with cacti. Instead, they could use just one large, visually powerful cactus that perhaps has some stunning angles and color. Then they could use other types of plants in different areas of the yard, like colorful perennial flowers or lovely aloe vera plants.

Ornaments
These can really make or break a yard. Some people love their little gnomes and ceramic frogs, and enjoy putting lots of them all over their front yard. Not to chop down anyone's landscaping taste, but this can give a beautiful landscape a really kitschy feel. It also draws attention away from the landscape. This is not to say that you can't use ornaments. Using one or two large ornaments is sufficient, and they should tie into the actual landscape design. Another "ornamental" idea is to create a sculpture garden if you have the space--just remember that white sculptures are pretty much out, though they work in some cases. Preferably you should go for bronze colored sculptures that blend in with the natural colors of the landscape. Also, go for something more modern. Greek and Roman inspired statues are a bit trite.

The Right Plants
Don't pick your plants based only on looks. This could get you in a world of landscaping trouble. You must first consider your landscaping environment and then choose plants that will thrive in that specific area. Think about what the weather is like near your home, what type of soil or rocky areas you have in your yard, and if certain parts of your lawn are mostly shaded or open to sunlight. Depending on where you are going to put your plants, as well as many other conditions, you will need to choose your plants accordingly. In a desert landscape design the plants should love the sun, be drought proof, and be able to survive in bad soil or rocky areas, for example.

Grass
As mentioned at the beginning, having perfect grass is no longer the top measure of how beautiful a landscape is. There are so many plants and hardscaping elements that you can add to a landscape now. Don't bore your eyes with a solid bed of grass, especially if you have a large yard.

Pagodas, Outdoor Kitchen Islands & Fire Pits, Oh My!

Functional Landscaping Elements & Home Accessories

There are many home accessories that can become major parts of landscaping designs. Below are three fairly common home accessories that are used often in landscapes.

  1. If you love to meditate you may already have a pagoda. If not, you may want to invest in one as these stylish backyard accessories add beautiful, architectural elegance to landscapes. They also make great focal points in backyards. In the image example above, a high staircase surrounded by lush foliage leads up to a stunning little temple-like pagoda.
  2. Another common accessory is a built in BBQ. These outdoor kitchen islands are typically pretty large property assets, and many homeowners love to make them part of the landscape. One way to do this is to give your outdoor kitchen islands a stone veneer. Many homeowners use stone as parts of their hardscapes and stone is a natural element that fits pleasantly into landscape designs.
  3. Fire pits are another asset that can be used to enhance the look of landscapes. Fire pits have become incredibly popular as of late because of new beautiful designs and because of the popularization of outdoor "living spaces" where back patios are now extensions of indoor living areas. Gas or propane fire pits are typically the safest fire pits to use on a back patio or out in the backyard, and you can also find them in many materials including brick and natural stone.

Don't be afraid to ask a professional residential landscape designer how these types of home accessories fit into your landscape. They could give you helpful advice about how to tie these elements into your yard in the best way.

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