Assigning the Five Basic Landscaping Areas

Summary: With existing objects on a plan, the design can begin. First step… decide a size and location of the five basic areas.

This article is part of our series on designing your our landscape.

At this point of the landscape design process no real planning has been done. We have simply marked down on our plan objects already in existence. Now we actually begin to create the design – to plan the forms which the grounds and garden are to be made to assume. In doing this the first step is to decide upon the location and the size of the five basic areas: foundation planting, boundary planting, front yard, outdoor living room and service area.

The Foundation Planting

sample landscape plan

The Foundation Planting comes first. Unless the house is of very strict and formal architecture, or in a modern design, with emphasis on sharp angles and rectangular areas, it is best to have the foundation planting somewhat irregular in outlines: wider at some points, narrowing at others. The width of the foundation planting will depend somewhat on the size of the house and width of the property because – this should be followed as a general plan for the entire property – keeping everything in scale is of top importance to make sure final outcome will be pleasing.

For a small house on a small lot the width of the foundation planting should be held down to from three to five feet. On a larger property, these dimensions can be extended. Keeping these things in mind, the foundation planting area will be something like that shown as “A” in sample image.

The Boundary Plantings

The Boundary Plantings which are to enclose the property may be next considered. Here again, if the general effect of the entire planting is to be informal, it is desirable to avoid long straight lines. One of the advantages of doing this is to increase the apparent size of the property. If, however, the plot is very small and the boundary planting must be held down to hedges or more or less formal screen plantings consisting of shrubs set out in a single row, then of course straight lines will be necessary.

Assuming that we have a little room to play with, the boundary line area may be made out similar to that shown as “B” on the sample plan.

The Front Yard Area

The Front or Public View Area will be more or less automatically determined by the width of the plot, the location of the house, and the garage if there is one separate from the house.

front yard landscape

Although this space, in the nature of things, will be more or less rectangular, the front edge of such planting as may be done around it can be curved and slightly irregular, and thus be kept in harmony with the planting of the rest of the property. Such a scheme is indicated in the front area shown as “C” in sample plan.

The Outdoor Living Room

The Outdoor Living Room (backyard) or private area is the largest and most important. It is in the design of this area that the amateur landscape architect has more opportunity to express their own individuality in working out the planting design. By the same token, however, there is here more room to make serious mistakes.

The Outdoor Living Room, as its name would imply, should be designed for living. We have already discussed its general aspect – its floor, doors, windows, walls, and so forth. In laying out your own particular living room in your own design, keep in mind, first, that much of it should be as sunny as possible and protected from prevailing winter winds. This is not only for the sake of the plants which are to be grown (many of which prefer all the sun they can get) , but also because a protected sunny spot will be used much more by the family during spring and autumn than will one which does not have sunny spaces. On the other hand there will be many blistering days during the summer when shade will be welcome and only the coolest spot available will be sought out. Planning should be made for both extremes and seasons.

It will be noted that in the living room, backyard or private area suggested under “D” in sample plan, that tall shrubs and evergreens have been placed along the northern and western boundary line, while the lower plantings to the east and south allow full sunshine except in the “shady corner” sheltered by large trees.

The Service Area

The Service Area “E” in sample plan has been held down to small dimensions and placed where it will be concealed as much as possible from the house windows and the Outdoor Living Room.

Next it is on to Filling in Special Features

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