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  • Carmel Homes

What is considered landscape design?

Updated: Apr 11

Let's dive into the world of landscape design, where we blend nature and human creativity to create awesome outdoor spaces. It's like this fantastic combo of chill vibes and eco-friendly genius. It's not just about sticking some plants and stuff in a yard – it's more like a super cool art form. Picture this: you're turning outdoor spaces into these chill, good-looking spots that are also totally practical. It's all about teaming up with nature and using smart design moves to make spaces that are not just nice to look at, but also kind of eco-friendly.

Landscape designers are the real heroes here. They're not just picking pretty flowers – they're like environmental wizards, thinking about things like soil, sunlight, and how to make spaces that feel just right. Every little choice they make – the curves, the plants, the materials – it all tells a story about the space. And, if you're into building your dream spot, working with a custom home builder is like having your creative partner in crime.

Whether you're into the elegance of a French provincial home or the sleekness of modern home design, or even something unique like a dual occupancy setup. And if you've got a tricky sloping block, no worries – these builders know how to turn challenges into opportunities. So, whether you're dreaming of a knockdown and rebuild or simply revamping a small section of your yard, landscape design is the secret sauce that makes your outdoor space pop. It's like creating outdoor vibes that make you feel something. Whether it's a secret garden, a community park, or a cool city square, these outdoor spaces are like the hangout spots for humans and nature to party together. So, get ready to explore the world of landscape design – where we'll check out the rules, elements, and how it transforms boring spaces into outdoor wonderlands!

Principles Guiding Landscape Design

Landscape design is like a carefully choreographed dance, with principles that set the rhythm and flow of the outdoor space. Check out the key guiding principles that turn a patch of land into a visual symphony:

  • Unity: Think of your landscape as a unified story. Every plant, color, and material plays a role in creating a consistent and harmonious vibe.

  • Proportions: It's all about balance. Whether it's the size of a water feature or the arrangement of plants, nailing proportions ensures elements play their part without stealing the show.

  • Focal Point: Imagine your landscape as a stage, and the focal point is the star of the show. It grabs attention, prevents visual chaos, and ties everything together, whether it's a chic door or a mesmerizing water feature.

  • Rhythm, Repetition, and Lines: The landscape has its own rhythm, defined by lines and repetition. Clean lines guide the flow, repetition adds interest, and the overall design becomes a visual dance that pulls you in.

  • Function: Beyond looks, function is the unsung hero. A well-designed landscape isn't just about aesthetics; it's about creating a space that works seamlessly for those using it, from easy movement to practical outdoor furniture use.

  • Sustainability: In the spotlight of modern landscaping, sustainability is the key player. Opt for eco-friendly choices, from water-smart plants to recycled materials, turning your garden into a champion for a greener, healthier Earth.

Exploring the Essential Elements of Landscape Design

Let's jump into the world of landscape design, where a bunch of crucial elements team up to make your outdoor space look and feel awesome. So, lets explore these key components that form the foundation of a perfectly designed landscape:


  • Plants are the green soul of your outdoor hangout, adding colors and textures that make it feel alive. Pick your plants wisely – think about where you live, the soil, and how much effort you're ready to put into their care. Arrange them in a way that makes your space look cool, with standouts and green backdrops in all the right places.


  • Now, hardscapes are the non-living stuff that brings structure to the party. Think pathways, patios, and those walls that keep things in place. They're like the bones of your outdoor setup. Choose materials like stone or wood to give your space its own vibe – it's all about setting the mood.

Water Features:

  • Water features are the secret sauce for adding a relaxing touch. Fountains, ponds, or waterfalls – take your pick. They're not just there to look cool; they bring a whole new vibe to your outdoor spot. Plan them right, and you'll have a spot that's as soothing as it is stylish.


  • Lighting is the game-changer for making your space usable even after the sun sets. Use lights to show off cool features, set the mood, and make sure no one trips on the way to the barbecue. Whether you go subtle or bold, the right lighting makes your outdoor spot go from "meh" to "wow."

Mix these elements with a bit of creativity, and you'll have a backyard that's not just a looker but a cool hangout spot too. It's all about finding that sweet spot where everything works together.

The Design Process

Understanding Your Site

  • To get a grip on your site, take a good look at it. Understand the soil, topography, and climate – key players in plant growth. Soil type dictates what nutrients and moisture your plants will get, so pick plants that vibe with your soil. Soil amendments can be pricey and not always effective, so choose wisely. Existing plants tell you a lot about your soil, so pay attention. Consider topography and fix drainage issues in your design. Don't forget about climate – plants need to survive both highs and lows. Sun/shade patterns matter too, creating microclimates in your yard. Map out site conditions and existing vegetation to spot microclimates. Utilities, property boundaries, and a surveyor's plat are your friends – get them involved in your planning to avoid costly mistakes.

Keeping Users in Mind

  • Who's using your yard? You, your family, pets, and visitors all have needs. Think about how you currently use your yard and how you want to use it. What do you want it to look like? How hands-on are you with maintenance? And, of course, what's your budget? Analyze entry points, play areas, and pet zones. Plan for future needs – things change. Budget-wise, factor in materials, initial installation, and ongoing maintenance. Be realistic about the time and effort you're willing to put into your yard.

Choosing a Theme

  • Pick a theme for your landscape design to guide your plant and material choices. Themes can be simple or fancy – find one that speaks to you. Magazines and books are great for inspiration, but be critical. Look at your property views – do you want an open or enclosed garden? Your theme should vibe with your surroundings, architecture, and neighborhood. There are form themes and style themes. Form themes organize spaces based on shapes, while style themes are about the overall vibe. Themes can be straightforward, like a color mix or repeated plant type.

Creating and Connecting Spaces

  • Treat your yard like an extension of your home, breaking it into public (front yard), private (back yard), and service (side yard) areas. Think about what you want to do in each space. Create outdoor rooms using plants, trees, and hardscape for that cozy feeling. Make spaces human-scale for comfort. Connect everything with pathways and walkways. Use gates and arbors to link spaces and encourage exploration.

Considering Plant Functions

  • Plants aren't just pretty – they serve different roles. They make things look good, give structure to your space, and serve practical purposes. Plants can change light, temperature, and humidity for your comfort. They also control noise, add privacy, and even provide food. Think about these roles when picking plants early on in your planning.

Structuring Plantings

  • Think of plants like the walls of your garden. Trees and shrubs are the big players, creating background and framing spaces. Group and layer plants for a cohesive look. The size of your plant groups depends on your yard size and the impact you want. Overlapping and layering create a connected pattern. Start with big background plants, add mid-sized ones, and finish with low foreground plants for emphasis.

Highlighting Key Points

  • Make important spots in your garden pop. Use unique plants, cool structures, or ornaments. Gates, arbors, and steps can mark entrances or highlight specific areas. Match it all to your garden's theme. Focal points organize your space visually. Use contrasting textures, shapes, sizes, and colors to catch the eye.

Paying Attention to Details

  • Details make your garden special. Consider how things look, smell, sound, and feel. Combine forms, colors, textures, and sizes for a visually appealing garden. Plants come in different forms – round, columnar, weeping – mix them up. Form and texture beat color most times. Think about light too – it changes how your garden looks during the day and across seasons.

Accounting for Time

  • Plant selection isn't just about looks. Consider growth rate, mature size, form, and maintenance needs. Fast-growers might seem exciting, but they come with maintenance. Know how big your plants will get and give them room. Overcrowded plants are a pain. Leave space for air circulation and home maintenance. Don't plant too close to utilities – think ahead.

Sustainability in Landscape Design

Opting for native plants in your landscaping isn't just a trend—it's a practical move. They're local superstars that thrive effortlessly, needing less attention and fewer resources. Edible gardens, from fruit havens to cute herb corners, add both flavor and functionality to your landscape. Going wildlife-friendly with features like gardens, ponds, or meadows transforms your yard into a VIP lounge for critters. And don't forget the eco-chic move of rainwater harvesting to keep your plants happy and your water meter in check.

Zooming out, sustainable landscaping is a game-changer, making outdoor spaces look good while playing nice with the planet. Smart water use, stormwater management, and permeable surfaces are part of the eco-savvy toolkit. Choosing local materials and salvaged items reduces your project's ecological footprint.

Supporting local critters? Native plants are the MVPs, needing less TLC and giving your garden an authentic vibe. Sustainable landscaping isn't just a trend; it's a lifestyle choice for your outdoor space. Tackling big issues like water scarcity, habitat loss, and climate change, it's also easy on your wallet. So, in your next landscaping gig, let nature be your guide, creating spaces that aren't just easy on the eyes but also gentle on the Earth.

In the realm of landscape design, where nature collaborates with human creativity, outdoor spaces are transformed into captivating realms of both aesthetic appeal and eco-friendly brilliance. Whether you're envisioning the elegance of a French provincial home, the sleekness of modern home design, or something unique like a dual occupancy setup on a challenging sloping block, partnering with a custom home builder becomes your creative ally in crafting the perfect haven.

So, whether you're thinking of a knockdown and rebuild or just jazzing up a corner of your yard, landscape design is the secret sauce that makes your outdoor space pop. It's about creating vibes – be it a secret garden, a community park, or a cool city square – where humans and nature can party together. So, in your next landscaping adventure, let the principles guide you, get creative, and let nature be your partner in crime. Create outdoor wonderlands that are not just good-looking but also kind to the Earth. Cheers to cool hangout spots that are easy on the eyes and Mother Nature!



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