Everyday Design Tips to Transform Your Home

Sunday, 12 July 2015

On 15:14 by Alex Mungai   No comments
photo courtesy of bing
While much goes into the design of the house, little thought is given into the outdoor environment. For most home owners, a few plants in the compound-randomly placed define the landscape. However, there is more to planting than this. Although, not the only approach to designing your landscape, plants are quite fundamental in creating beautiful sceneries in your landscape.
Planting design therefore involves careful selection of planting materials to either suit your functional or aesthetic needs while in harmony with the natural environment. Therefore, much thought should be given before choosing the right plants for your property. Here are some tips that you will need to consider.

Environmental factors
The process of selecting plants is to a great extent influenced by the prevailing environmental factors of your locality. It is therefore very important to determine the plants’ requirements prior to planting them in your landscape. The climatic elements to consider include the average rainfall, humidity, sunlight and wind-all of which can be provided by the local meteorological department. These will go a long way in determining the plant’s healthy growth.
It is also necessary to determine the soil characteristics of your home before designing. This include the soil pH, fertility, humus content, water holding capacity etc. Most plants will do well in red soils as compared to black cotton soils.
A thorough site analysis from a professional will come in handy before selecting planting materials for your landscape.

Functional uses of the plants
Other than been ornamentals, plants can be used to fit a variety of functional uses in the environment which are mostly informed by the design qualities of the plants such as shape/form,fragrance,colour,texture and size.
For instance, plants’ forms can be manipulated to serve various architectural functions in the landscape.

An outdoor dining area partially enclosed by plants
-photo courtesy of bing
Visual control: Plants with a weeping form can be used as screen plants i.e barring unwanted views as well as creating a sense of privacy especially for homeowners. Plants can also be arranged to direct people towards desirable views or certain enclosures. For instance, plants along a driveway can be used to direct drivers towards the parking.
Physical barriers: The physical movement of people in a landscape can be controlled by using planting materials at designated areas. Low plants such as shrubs can be quite effective in providing psychological control while tall plants offer the most of physical control for humans as well as animals. Careful grouping of plants along boundary lines goes a long way in barring trespassers.
When used along property lines,the bamboo limits physical movement
-photo courtesy of bing

Noise control: for homeowners near busy roads or industries, noise is a constant undesired phenomenon. Tall, dense planting on the edges of the property can be used to reduce noise intensity levels and create healthy environments. When used together with other landscape elements such as mounds, plants offer quite a noise free zone.

Other functional uses of plants include controlling soil erosion especially groundcovers, climatic control by creating desirable micro-climates as well as air purification.

Aesthetic values
The reflection of palm trees in the pool creates beautiful patterns
-photos courtesy of bing
Plants when used alongside other design elements can be used to create fascinating sceneries in the landscape. For instance, plants along a pond or pool create dark and light patterns when reflected in the water while plants with dark foliage can be used to create contrasting background for light colored landscape elements.
On pavements, carefully grouped trees create shadows which form patterns with the hardscape hence creating beautiful patterns.

What is important is for the designer to understand the quality of the plant and how to integrate it with the environment to bring out the plant’s aesthetic values.

As you go about selecting the planting materials, it is important to put into consideration some growth characteristics of the plants such as the size at maturity which comes in handy when choosing the right place to plant. Of importance too is the growth cycle. Are the plants deciduous or evergreen?

Before you design, identify any existing problems by carrying out site analysis, determine how to use planting design to resolve the issues and finally choose the right planting materials  and your landscape will begin to take shape.


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