Plants shouldn’t just be categorized as mere shrubs, trees or groundcovers. They need to be categorized in a way that will showcase the visual forms they take, their manner of growth and their uses. This will help landscape designers become more skilled and experienced in the art of landscape design.

Landscape architects can improve their skills in planting design by learning more about plants and appreciating their potential as a material for landscape design. Landscape architects should be willing to sacrifice their time and energy to learn more about unique ways of using plants to accomplish astonishing garden designs.

Every landscape architect is well trained in basic general and theoretical knowledge of plants. But they do not know how to make effective designs using plants. Landscape designers must learn a lot about plants. It takes a lot of time to learn about plants. To get a good knowledge of plants, landscape designers must do a lot of research and have a lot of hands-on experience. Landscape designers must be good observers of nature and they must work in gardens a lot to gain the necessary experience needed. Horticulturists are experts on plants and what they need for growing but they may not be good designers.


To become a good landscape architect, one must have a good knowledge of plants along with efficient design skills. When a he has the two things listed above, the designer becomes creative and comes up with a lot of unique designs.

Research has shown that landscape architects must engage with plants before they can become good landscape designers. There is need for more landscape designers more than ever. As of now, there are very few good books on landscape design.

Landscape designers are usually restricted to the use of a few plants largely due to their environment and regional weather conditions. Thus, they ignore thousands of plants that might have given their designs a unique touch. Amateur landscape designers often use the same plants over and over again in a bid to play safe. But when landscape architects learn a lot about various plants along with their uses and their growth in various environments, they can come up with better designs. There is a need for plants to be categorized in more effective ways that will highlight how they can be used better. This way, landscape architect can select the best plants for any given design case.

Landscape designers often think of plants in just three categories which are shrubs, trees and groundcovers. Plants should be thought of in groups in relation to how useful they are for designs as well as the way they grow and their visual looks.

Horticulturists and botanists should write references that will focus on data that will describe plants accurately and talk about how they grow and means of identifying them. They also need to place more emphasis on the lifespan of plants. A lot of landscape designers do not even know the lifespan of common plants. They do not know how plants can be used in different scenarios for various effects. There are several ways of using plants and they can be classified into the following seven groups:

  • Plants that are used for their visual effects
  • Plants that are used for fuel, food or sustenance
  • Plants that are used for defining a space
  • Plants that are used for modifying a microclimate
  • Plants that are used for the heart, soul or mind.
  • Plants that are used to solve technical problems
  • Plants that are used for satisfying other senses of the body.

Amateur landscape designers will have a lot to gain from a clear definition of the uses of various plants. They also need to know how the plants look like. Veteran landscape designers know all these and they need to spread this information to amateur landscape designers.

There need to be a clear description of the habits, uses and visual forms of the plants. There are a lot of planting books that use icons to describe the size and forms of plants. They use some common lingo like fastigiated, weeping, rounded and others. Then they use the common headings of shrubs, trees and groundcovers. These categories don’t make things easy for landscape designers. For example, subtropical landscape designers can’t locate plants like Strelitzia nicolai (bird of paradise), Ravenala madagascariensis (traveller’s palm) and others. There are some landscape designers that do not allow the use of traditional visual elements like pattern, texture, line, color, form etc. They also do not encourage the use of design principles like rhythm, contrast, emphasis, variety, balance, movement, proportion etc. Plants should be seen as much more than their traditional uses. Plants should have spiritual, philosophical and religious importance. Plants serve to show the health of an environment. They should be given much more than their usual respect and they should be given the reverence that they deserve. Plants are great. A landscape architect enjoys plant design the most of all the various aspects of his work.

Also read: Creating a landscape design plans.