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21 Jun 2018

Garden project for a functional patio

A lawn, in a small garden, can be impractical, and if you still want an area for play, social life and relaxation, then a patio can provide all the space you need.

Since the project has a rather large and uninterrupted area without greenery, the plant is particularly focused on ensuring that the garden does not seem too bare.

Garden project of a functional patio

Strengths

  1. Although quite extensive, the main patio remains pleasant thanks to its round shape, made discontinuous by the hedges and the pattern on the floor.
  2. The raised terrace adds another dimension and provides a quiet shelter, separated from the main part.
  3. The project includes exuberant vegetation, which compensates for the uniformity of the paved areas.
  4. Floating benches provide flexibility of arrangement, and can be placed in a formal way at the corners or freely around the table, as a refreshment area.
  5. Barbecue and fountain are accessible without cluttering.
  6. A useful storage area is shielded behind the terrace.

Benches

These modular benches are simple casings on wheels.

You can arrange them around a table or place them in various parts of the garden.

Make them with lifting or detachable seats, so you can also use them as containers, and equipped with cushions for greater comfort.

Fountain

Fountains and water features embellish any garden. If their height is at least 45 cm you can also sit on the edges.

Place them so that you can see them from the house, at a point where the sun can highlight the moving water plays of light.

Barbecues

The built-in barbecues can be built with materials that are uniform to those used in other garden works, such as raised beds or walls.

Be careful not to place them too close to the area chosen as a refreshment point, and prefer a fairly open and ventilated position.

22 Apr 2018

The charm of water in the design of the garden and parks

All the great gardens of the world have used water in one form or another, and its use has been adapted in each country according to needs and climate. Water exerts an immense charm, focusing attention on itself as few other characteristics of the garden. Water games are the only element, next to birds and humans, to bring life and movement in the garden, while a stretch of stagnant water gives an incomparable sense of space and unity. It makes a project clear, accentuating the fundamental level to which everything else refers. In the landscaped parks the lakes represent the reference plane on which the design of the morphology of the land and the trees is built. Any opportunity to use water must be exploited, provided it is suitable for particular circumstances. On the practical side, one wonders if there is adequate supply and if the water can be kept clean. For private gardens, electric pumps are used that circulate a small amount of water and do many things. It is also possible to create a natural balance of aquatic life as long as the water is properly conserved and left to mature. If water is available and desirable, there are many factors that influence the form to be taken. It is useless to recreate in a damp London courtyard a dripping water motif that had been designed to provide refreshment from the Spanish sun; but in the same courtyard it might be possible to design a pool that reflects the low light of the sky like a bright mirror. In a hot climate, water is never too much. The Generalife and the Villa d’Este play there giving life to every conceivable form. The water splashes and drips, flows into waterfalls and flickers in the air, drawing intertwined jets. The sound, the sight, the smell of the air sprayed with humidity are all a refreshment from the heat; but in a cool and humid climate this enveloping copiousness could be depressing and the humid air give a feeling of cold. Perhaps it is for this reason that the traditional use of water in England is the still and still lake, rather than the exuberant inventiveness that Italians demonstrate in water games and the joy of these sensations.

 Villa d'Este fountain and design of the garden

The stream of the Villa Lante gives this impression of joy in the touch and shape of the water. The torrent gushes from the mouth of a dolphin and swirls along a long depression, which in turn is carved into a series of reels rippled like petrified water; while on the side a flight of stairs echoes the ripples in a more sober form. The atmospheres that water can awaken are as varied as human temperaments. It can be a dark serenity. It can be joie de vivre, with copious long-range jets; or frivolity, demonstrated in the most crude way in the water jokes favored by the late baroque and, more delicately, in the intermittent jets of the Villa d’Este, with their fascinating rhythm of one … two … three …, Plunk; contentment is the note of the gurgling fountains of the Tivoli; inspiration in the jets thrown from the star at the apex of the fountain of the parterre to the Villa Lante; majesty in the formidable waterfall of the organ at the Villa d’Este. The voluptuous pleasure given by the freshness of the water in a dry climate is translated into the dull thud of the water that falls in large drops in a tank and in the waters that flow continuously to the Generalife. In recent years, water has been used as an important element in civil planning, even in the cold climates of Northern Europe. On the move, he added life and interest, and quietly provided a beautiful setting for the buildings. The splendid water jets of Tapiola, in Finland, rise against the backdrop of architecture and forest like large sculpted columns, and this strong sculptural quality seems more appropriate to the cold and dark climate than the subtle and sparkling jets of the South can be.

In the Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen, water builds a sculptural form of bubbling compost in the basins. In Great Britain, in the most recent uses, water is poured on smooth or rippled surfaces to reflect the sober light or flows into large clusters, dense enough to form a sculptural design. The water gardens in the Sussex Gardens of London show how water can be used to give not only form and interest but also a greater sense of space because here the backyard is made of water, plants, and containers that arise as islands, while access roads and places to sit form bridges and platforms. This concept makes a virtue of necessity since the underlying construction could not support a soil deep enough to make plants grow. The simple lotus ponds of the Orient, as well as the statues in the fountains, the molded cymas of the basins and the gushing beasts of Europe, have given us some of the most beautiful features of the gardens of the past.

The Villa Lante shows enchanting examples of these quirks. The fiery horse that rises from the water of the basin near the entrance; the undulations of the stone that echo the ripples of the stream towards the center of the garden; the magnificent central motif of the lower parterre, with the water gushing from the raised star, each element gives a special character to the water that plays around it.

Villa Lante fountain and design of the garden

Even the humblest country fountain in a French place or in an Italian square is beautiful in itself, even without considering the water. It is as if water, the main necessity of life, gave itself a suitable setting second only to the church as a center of community life. The current cost of the equivalent of the worked stone of the Villa Lante could be prohibitive even for a public park. The small community and the private citizen at least can look for something much simpler. But it is significant that the wooden bowls of Tivoli in Copenhagen, which constitute such an attractive and peculiar part of the structure, were made of wood only because the war had made other materials untraceable, and there are equally good solutions to be found for the shortcomings to which we also go to meet. If it is water and not the container that constitutes the main object, it is possible to reduce the construction of a formal tank to an evanescent simplicity, using a metal container and bringing the grassy clods to the edge of the water. Concrete is often used for tanks and is able to give special effects that must be exploited, renouncing any attempt to imitate the stone. While the beauty of the stone lies in the moldings and in the carvings, the beauty of the concrete lies in the defined lines and the free forms it can take. The pools designed by Thomas Church in California and by Lawrence Halprin take their effect from the interesting shape of the water, where a Renaissance fountain would rely on the beauty of the container.

The main joy of water may be its movement, or its power of reflection, or sometimes a clever combination of the two when a placid surface is crossed by dark ripples. If the water has to serve as a pool of light to attract the sky over itself, then it must be motionless and open to the sky, almost like a mirror. The water must fill the container to the brim, or be enclosed by very sweet sides. The artificial pond on the Downs is not the obvious prototype. The upper Belvedere basin in Vienna has the same effect on a large scale; attracting the sky and the distant horizon on its surface, it becomes the focal point of the surrounding landscape and the skyline of Vienna. The effectiveness of the reflection depends on the correct location and on the water level in relation to the object to be reflected and on the observer’s eye, a question that can be treated in sections, reminding that the angle at which the visual meets the ‘water is equal to the angle of reflection. The care with which Le Nòtre ensured a correct reflection in the Vaux-le-Vicomte pool was mentioned on page 69, while Repton demonstrated equal skill in his informal lakes.

All the art and science of reflecting water are exhibited in his classic work The Art of Landscape Gardening. In England, stagnant water reveals all its merits. In climes with more constant light, the vast bodies of water may be lifeless or too dazzling, but in England, there is no need for water to move. The still surface reflects instead the changing lights of the sky and the different seasons of the trees. It can be beautiful in the rain and even more beautiful in the fog than under the sun. Therefore, although in the English gardens one can find water in all forms, the truly memorable examples consist of placid water: the lakes of Stoprhead and Blenheim; the tranquil Wilton River and the waning Cambridge Backs reflecting the pale green spring of weeping willows. The waters par excellence suited to the English climate are the placid lakes that mysteriously unravel in foggy inlets, reflecting the rich but tenuous color of the trees through the constant change of lights and seasons. This was the type of water exploited by the landscape architects of the eighteenth century.

The smaller watercourses were dammed to form lakes and give the appearance of winding rivers. Their apparent extension and their sense of mystery were increased by the water disappearing from view snaking around a sweet promontory or getting lost in a grove. If the effect of a slow-flowing river could not be achieved on one level, the intermediate cascade between one level and another could be hidden in a forest, and apparently, the same stretch of river, now wider, returned to see each other later. The dramatic effect of a waterfall was sacrificed to the appearance of space and tranquility since these were the particular virtues that water had to provide.

In many of Repton’s sketches, the transformation includes one of these placid pools of water set beneath a gentle grassy slope surmounted by the castle, with the reflection of groups of trees and peaceful cattle grazing. It was the sweetness of these artificial rivers that was criticized by the proponents of the picturesque, since for them a preferable use of water consisted of the waterfall and the bumpy stream of water; they are two emanations of the northern forest, equally suited to the English climate and territory, and have been used with good results in many gardens. Sometimes you can look for a particularly dramatic effect, darkness or color intensity. Sir George Sitwell, in his On the Making of Gardens, offers a comprehensive exposition of the art of using shadow over water, emphasizes the value of dark-colored evergreens as a background for water, and explains how to exclude rays side of the sun focus the reflection on the dark blue of the zenith. On the contrary, Repton shows how a river with gently sloping banks appears wider than with steep banks because the shadow is reduced and a larger surface of the water reflects the sky. If reflections are desired, most of the water should be kept free of aquatic plants, which should be used only with great discernment and to give a definite contribution to the composition. For example, a still and dark basin located in a forest, or surrounded by evergreens, can be embellished with the flat structure of the water lily leaves and the white star of its flowers; or the calm surface of a large lake can be underlined by the stems of the reeds that pierce it, but often a body of water becomes not very different from the mainland due to the covering of aquatic plants. The delight that can be added to a garden even with the smallest watercourse is expressed in the book Wall and Water Garden by Gertrude Jekyll. A small stream running through a garden can be dammed to form a series of pools and waterfalls and swampy areas. In a large informal lake, you can create coverings with natural banks of grass and water-loving plants. This was the method used by Brown and Repton, but is now largely replaced by the use of plastic sheets.

Where a concrete construction is used, there is the problem of not offering the unpleasant edge of concrete to the eye. Attempts to hide it by balancing rock pieces or using an irregular mosaic pavement are worse than useless. In a fairly large lake, the edge can be hidden by gently sloping the soil towards the water and into the lake, forming a natural beach that covers the concrete. In a small pond there is not enough space to perform this work without reducing the water depth to a simple puddle, but the same principle can be applied to building a platform in the concrete wall just below the water level with a rising front to retain soil or pebbles, and the concrete that retains the water is transported backwards. Next, to the water, you can plant grass or vegetation, with the added advantage of providing a wet place in which to plant the water-loving vegetation, which is now often laid out outside the concrete, where it does not get any benefit from the water. There are cases in which, although the basin is informal, nothing prevents you from leaving a clear edge in sight. The fences along the banks of the rivers, for example, are pleasant to see, and the gardens on the banks of the Thames are delightful with their shaved lawns ending just above the table of the bank, or in some cases on a white-painted concrete wall.

Two opposite examples of this treatment can be found in the English village pond with the wooden or masonry fence that supports the bank forming a straight line or a slight curve, and in the sophisticated Japanese pond with fences that follow a rigid convention. Perhaps the most important point in the design of informal basins is to ensure that the water enters naturally into the morphology of the ground and takes the shape dictated by the configuration of the ground. Some modern examples of tubs of abstract form seem to make fun of this rule, but in fact they are not designed to appear natural and must be judged according to the criterion that applies to all abstract forms: if they have a design pleasing to the eye, without taking into account the reference to natural objects. The location of water at the lowest level in relation to its immediate vicinity is a general rule almost inviolable in the case of natural ponds and usually desires bile in the formal ones, but there are occasions when the water placed higher up is dramatic and gives special effects thanks to reflections. It excludes every reflection except that of the sky so that the water looks like a mirror of polished steel. In whatever form it is used, water must be treated with respect, as an important part of the general project. The small muddy pond relegated to a corner takes on a depressing air, which is the exact opposite of the reflections of light and of the irresistible interest that are its true characteristics.


Also read: Garden Trends Guide.

19 Apr 2018

Fountains in the garden

The term fountain derives from the Latin fons, fontis, which in reality means «source»: and therefore it is quite logical that often such rules are joined, and appear in the thought, visions of spurts or waterfalls.

Fountains and waterfalls are not peculiar to a certain type of garden, although they often form the fulcrum along with other ways of using water (see Water gardens); however they embellish any garden, small or large, to the point that, designing the plant, should almost always be considered as an integral part of the landscape, especially today that modern technology allows easy and not too grandiose installations like those of the past.

The gush that sparkles in the sun, the slight murmur of the water that flows, albeit for a short distance, the Argentinian noise of the cascade that sprays a thousand drops, each of which contains a pearl of lace, are motives so full of grace and charm that the writers of all time have felt the need to transfer them into words, and this ever since there were not even real gardens in the sense that we give to this term.

The Persian poet Omar Khayyam sings “this delightful grass whose tender green raises feathery to the edge of the stream,” and Plato: “sit under this sound pine on the banks of the bubbling stream.” Petrarca cried so much the death of Laura that he could not console himself “nor between clear fountains and green meadows”; Calderon de la Barca compares the stream with a silver serpent that winds through the flowers; Goethe admires “the source in the cliff-of joy-like a star look! ». D’Annunzio, as a young man, exhaled his decadentism by sighing “the sources, clear opal light, fan ne calm, sweet and strange sounds …”; even Garcia Lorca, in a landscape burnt as what he calls “the Andalusia of weeping”, finds his resting on “agua clara y olivos centenarios”!

Perhaps you have never been a poet or a narrator, a philosopher or a thinker who, even in a single sentence or a single verse, has not made his own the beauty and joy that the flow or the rising of water can give human soul.

For this joy or for the yearning that, depending on the place and time, water can inspire in us, over the centuries, artists, architects, simple but sensitive artisans have worked, creating wonderful, sweet and suggestive fountains, in all the gardens of the world.

Incisione di Gaspar Shott,quale esempio di fontana a zampilli; rappresenta allego-ricamente la meccanica,Engraved by Caspar Shott, as an example of a gushing fountain; it is attached to mechanics, hydraulics and pneumatics.
Engraved by Gaspar Shott, as an example of a gushing fountain; it is attached to mechanics, hydraulics and pneumatics.

From the calm square tank in the atrium of the Vestalian House at the Roman Forum at the complicated and majestic fountain of the Villa d’Este Organ – in Tivoli, from the spectacular expanse of running water in Courence, which took its name from it (more than half a kilometer of canals, waterfalls and mirrors) of water of the most varied forms) up to the rocky and half-hidden fountain of Esculapio in the Villa Borghese in Rome, the water sings, laughs, jokes with the wind, reflects blue or gray skies, green of plants and brown of rocks.

In the course of this discussion we speak only of gardens: too long would be the talk if we wanted to draw a complete overview of the fountains, from the sacred ones of antiquity then turned into baptismal sources, to those that arose with the sole purpose of water supply in the squares and streets of cities and towns, over time they became splendid ornaments, shining with art and often surrounded by vegetal elements that embellish marble, stone and sometimes metals.

But what can we say today about the use of water in our modern gardens, often small, certainly without the possibility of great works of hydraulic engineering that sometimes, as in Versailles, even required the deviation of a river? And here’s the modern technology to help us: plastic materials, cement, electricity.

With the appropriate use of them even the small garden and even the terrace can have its fountain and its waterfall.

Leaving aside the immovable water basins  or the places where the water dominates uncontested (see Water gardens), the basic element for achieving a movement of water on an even smaller scale is an electric pump.

There are various types of pumps: some are less powerful than others and of course the choice depends on the use that you want to do.

To obtain jets in a fountain, the number of water jets, their height, the depth of the tank and its width are the elements to take into account when choosing the pump.

There are some that can be submerged in the water itself and the simplest will produce a gush of about 1.80 m in height, falling in a width of about 1.20 m in diameter (it is important, of course, to know in advance this diameter to avoid annoying splashes outside the diameter of the tank); some are also adjustable so you can raise or lower the height of the jet.

These pumps require only a highly insulated electrical connection and their essential need is to make sure that they have completely sealed gaskets so that the mechanism can not block or form a mass with water: this would not only cause failure and damage, but it would be very dangerous.

The electricity source will be placed in the nearest sheltered place (a greenhouse, a garage or the house itself) and the buried cables will be protected as effectively as possible so that there is no danger of damage when the surrounding land is to be worked to allow various crops; it will, therefore, be wise to prepare their passage where there are no trees or plants with deep roots and the crops are carried out as much as possible on the surface.

They must also always be equipped with a third “earth” attack, a completely insulating covering, and their installation must be done by a very competent person.

Once all these necessary precautions have been exhausted, maintenance for oneself will be simple: in case of frost, the pump must be treated with water in advance, so that it does not get stuck due to excessive cooling, and from time to time it will take a light lubrication; if the filter, which the mechanism is equipped with, works well there should be no boredom due to foreign materials obstructing the various gears: occasionally a general check can be carried out when the pump is removed for cleaning work in the tank or for the winter cold.

If the tank is large enough and multiple or more spectacular effects are desired, the pump should be placed outside the fountain, digging a completely dry chamber underground, below the water level and as close to it as possible : a completely waterproof pipe will suck the water from the fountain, and another will lead it to or from the springs (variously made up of pulverized jets or the so-called «onions», always equipped with a filter to prevent foreign materials blocking the holes) placed in the center, on the side or around the tub.

The effect can be multiple, using various branches that will allow subsequent jets, but we must bear in mind that a single pipe is always safer and that in any case any fitting must be perfect.

The underground cell of the pump will be constructed, preferably, in waterproofed concrete, with a watertight cover at ground level and not covered with earth, to be able to easily lift it; its walls must naturally have the holes necessary for the passage of electric cables and ducts, equipped with excellent waterproof gaskets

 they close tightly, and the suction duct should be equipped with a “stop” valve to prevent the whole apparatus from becoming flooded if the pump were to be removed for any reason.

The same system, although more laborious as an initial construction, can be used to obtain a waterfall.

In this case, instead of a single tank, it will take two or more basins located at different levels and irregular in shape, placed in steps on each other.

They can be performed and made of synthetic fiber and will therefore require only the burying and ornamentation of the banks that must be as irregular as possible, formed with rocks that will give movement and relief and allow the cultivation of suitable plants; or they may be made of concrete, but bear in mind that this tends to crack and become porous over time; it will therefore be better, in this case, to cover it in advance with a plastic varnish.

In this case, the pump will have to be placed at the lowest level and the two tubes, aspirating and inspiring, will be located respectively in the lower and upper basin: the second will be longer and would be unsightly if left on the surface. so take care to bury it or to hide it between rocks and irregular stones.

In this way, the water inspired by the pump from the lower tank will overturn, pushed by electricity, into the higher one; from here it will precipitate, through a series of well-studied steps, so as to form a small natural-looking landscape, but actually constituting a closed circuit that will have only a small dispersion (easily replaceable, either through rain, or artificially) of the absorption of the earth in which herbs and flowers will be placed.

Even a small waterfall can be constructed more simply, avoiding the buried underground chamber, by means of a submerged pump located in the lower basin and attached to a conduit that carries the water to a higher level from which it will fall; but, as has already been said for fountains, such pumps, however simple, have a much smaller volume of production, not as water flow, but as a driving force: desiring a simple cascade of about 1.50 m high, with a water flow of 1500 liters per hour approximately, the effect will be less spectacular, but the costs of implantation much less and you can get a result equally satisfactory.

In this case the pump should not be placed in the middle of the lower tank but next to the point where the waterfalls and even greater care will be placed in the edges of the edges by relying on the details rather than the appearance of mass, and taking care of particular way that every plant is as decorative as possible, since it will have to stand out rather than get lost as a whole.

News and curiosity

It tells an ancient tradition that the Greek historian Pausanias was the first responsible for the legend concerning the fountain that for centuries was the most sought after in the world, and whose definitive name is still used proverbially as one of the desperate, and always disappointed, ambitions of humanity, together with the philosopher’s stone.

This old legend denoted this fountain “Càlatos” and told it that it was located next to Nauplia, in the Peloponnese, and that Juno bathed there regularly: this allowed her to remain young and beautiful in the eyes of Jupiter.

Later authors asserted that Jupiter turned a nymph into a fountain and that the waters of this spring had the power to rejuvenate whoever got wet, but no one could ever tell where this miraculous fountain was.

The Latins, because of this hypothetical magical power, gave it the name of “juventa” which, in the Middle Ages, through French, became “Jouvence” and which still today uses that name with a nostalgic sense of search for lost youth.

When America was discovered, it was believed that this source was in the new earth; this hope was disappointed.

The centuries have passed, the charm of the miracle has resisted time … but no one has ever been able to find out where the Fountain of Jouvence really is.


Read also: The periwinkle The ground cover plant, easy to maintain, presents interesting cultivars with many advantages

12 Apr 2018

Garden project with connected circles for a modern apartment.

Designed for a modern apartment, this hanging garden had to include an informal area for relaxation but also a more formal area for lunch and for guests.

The roof offered spectacular views of the city, which were to be enhanced. By arranging two different circular areas, the main functions of the garden are defined.

A first platform is surrounded by raised flower beds with easily maintained plants, which provide shielding and shelter, while framing the view.

The flooring is used to connect the two areas, while a small and further paved circle, placed next to the dining area, serves to place the patio heating.

The second circular area includes several raised areas, designed from the same center but with different radii, to move the space.

The artificial lawn is used in contrast with the planks, ensuring a comfortable surface without major maintenance problems.

A small cascading water feature adds an extra touch of vivacity, while the sculptures and containers distributed in the space bring interest.

Two Sorbus vilmorinii frame the view of the city on the eastern side of the garden.

 

DIMENSIONS 15 x 7.5 m

LAND imported

EXPOSURE south

DISTINCTIVE TRACES two circular areas

11 Apr 2018

PENSILE GARDENS | ROOF GARDEN

The design of the roof gardens is dictated more by the roof structure and its ability to support loads than the application of stylistic concepts.

We must also take into account issues such as private property and safety, as well as the position of any facilities (air conditioners, ventilation fans or skylights).

PENSILE GARDENS | ROOF GARDEN
The hanging gardens designed together with the rest of the house will be less problematic; on the contrary, converting an existing roof can be very expensive and complicated. The first problem to be solved after structural issues is exposure.

The roofs are difficult environments, susceptible to strong fluctuations in temperature, much less repaired than traditional gardens and devoid of soil to be excavated for planting the plants. Shields of fabric, glass or wood protect from the wind; grilled or perforated panels reduce speed instead.

All fixing systems must be robust and resistant, to avoid damage or loss of parts. Select suitable plants to cope with difficult climatic conditions, and instead of using small containers take into account – weight permitting – largely raised flowerbeds, because in the former the soil will dry faster.

Drainage must be carefully designed to guarantee a fast and efficient water flow; you must also pay close attention not to damage the waterproof roof cover.

Finally, do not forget all the practical issues related to the transport of materials and plants.


Read also: Garden project: garden on the roof