LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE : a primer*
Formally, Landscape Architecture is the art and science of analysis, planning, design, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land. Landscape Architecture is principally concerned with:
- diagnosing or analyzing situations influenced by ecological, cultural and economic factors at multiple scales, a process called interpretation
- proposing solutions, a process called conceptualization
- assessing both intended and unintended consequences of design decisions, a process known as evaluation
- presenting ideas through verbal and graphic communication
* Nicholas DInes & Kyle Brown Landscape Architect's Portable Handbook
A Landscape Architect acts with an intentional hand in shaping your surroundings. He or she is professionally educated and licensed to perform a comprehensive set of tasks ensuring all aesthetic, ecological, and planning principles of landscape design are addressed in a sensitive and compelling manner. The desired landscape - be it garden, park, wetland, refuge, courtyard or city street - emerges from the process of thorough site analysis, thoughtful design, and expert installation, formed by a palette of plants, stone, soil, structures, and sky, and refined to meet the human condition.
USING A LANDSCAPE MASTERPLAN:
The most important aspect of starting a landscape project is to think about the big picture first. One of the specialties of the landscape architect is the creation of a strategic landscape masterplan, a vital tool in the realization of a desired landscape. A masterplan is the communication device resulting from the landscape architect's interpretation/conceptualization/evaluation process; it is primarily a document that visually and verbally addresses all aspects of the landscape under design consideration. It identifies the specific types, sizes, quantities and locations of all structures (walls, fences, arbors), hardscapes (courts, walks), and plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, groundcovers).
The masterplan allows you to visualize your priorities for landscape improvements. If time or financial constraints present limitations, the masterplan enables implementation in logical phases. As each phase is installed, the greater landscape puzzle is completed, moving you towards your ultimate goal.
The masterplan becomes a touchstone to which you may refer over the life of your relationship with your property. This creates an aesthetically consistent and cohesive landscape as it evolves into the desired balance of plants, stone, structures, soil and sky.
BENEFITS OF LANDSCAPE IMPROVEMENTS:
In a research project conducted by the Gallup Organization, homebuyers said they felt that landscaping adds an average of 14.87% to the selling price of a home. In a survey, 95% of the members of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers said that landscaping adds to the dollar value and sales appeal of a property.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Money magazine reports landscaping as a home-improvement project has a recovery value of 100% - 200% if it is well done and harmonizes with its surroundings. This compares to a recovery value of a kitchen overhaul of 75% - 125% or a bathroom redesign of 80% - 120%.
Studies show that carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household's energy consumption for heating and cooling. Deciduous trees planted to the south of buildings provide shade in summer and decrease air conditioning costs, then lose their leaves in winter to allow warming sun through; evergreen windbreaks planted on the windward side of buildings have been shown to reduce winter heating bills.