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11 Feb 2018

A journey into the basic concepts of garden design

A lot of garden owners tend to describe their gardens as modest in size.

This is because many of them compare their garden to the large, ornamental gardens that can be found in parks, public spaces, mansions and other places.

They do not realize that compared to some tiny, urban gardens, their gardens are in fact extensive.

In some crowded city spaces, one can only have a garden in a balcony, and the garden could be as small as 2 x 3 m.

These long, narrow garden projects are quite difficult to manage for landscape architects. Options are limited in a small garden design.

A journey into the basic concepts of garden design

Small gardens are inflexible and involve a lot of strategizing to maximize the limited space available.  

Usually, gardens are private spaces for relaxation and meditation. But in densely populated urban regions, gardens lack privacy as they are surrounded by other buildings.

Their surroundings also make them susceptible to air pollution. So, a landscape architect needs to be crafty to make the best of a small garden design.

It is possible to retain beauty and create a relaxing atmosphere in a small garden. There will need to be a lot of intense planning and modification.

As rural-urban migration increased and gardens became smaller, landscape architects had to come up with various creative garden designs to meet the need of clients that had small garden projects. They had to make a lot of redesigns and change a lot in gardening, different from the way things were previously done.

Thanks to their creative designs, modern landscape architects achieved a higher square meter rate than previously obtained for gardens.

They came up with intricate designs and introduced new elements that created more space in a confined garden and made the small gardens easy to navigate and tend.

These gardens might be small, but they can cost a lot more than you think.

Every small garden is limited in size. To make the small garden project a success, the most important skill a landscape architect can employ is space management.

All resources must be spent appropriately with space management the most important factor to be considered.

With proper planning and creative design, one can add design elements like little sculptures and others in a small garden.

The small garden design must also be flexible to accommodate as many elements as possible.

A landscape architect must be realistic and accept that some things found in a traditional garden can never fit in in a small garden no matter how well space is managed.

For example, a dining table to sit four people can’t work in a small garden. Some landscape architects try to make some garden elements smaller to fit them in a garden, but they end up creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. 

The best thing to do is to insert the unimportant elements after the major elements have been inserted.

A small garden design should not be planned to fit in a dining table or another large element. The large elements must be fitted in if possible after the design is complete.

Options must be limited, and chaos must be avoided as much as possible. Sculptures, materials used, furniture and other things must follow this principle.

Through this, some talented landscape architects have managed to insert some otherwise impossible elements into gardens.

To accommodate various elements, there must be a lot of flexibility as earlier explained. Also, a landscape architect must be as realistic as possible and do away with any element that won’t fit in.

Previously, the goal was to insert as many plants as possible in a garden. Then, landscape architects combined a few plants from almost all the species in a garden.

But now, a few species of plants are selected. The selected plants are then maximized as much as possible, creating a clear and well-defined structure.

This also creates a spacious feeling in the garden. By using as little plants as possible, the garden retains an elegant feel.

The landscape architect must take wise decisions and select the best plants for the garden. Consociation must be done wisely.

Consociation involves allowing various plants to grow together and efficiently in a garden in a way that they complement each other perfectly.

The right blend of plants must be selected and planted in a way that they don’t look suffocating.

A landscape architect can combine perennials like centaur, astronaut and sage together. Also, herbaceous plants can be combined with bulbous plants.

Homeowners want all-year gardens where plants are in bloom all through the year. This could be quite difficult to have in a small garden design.

To accomplish this, the limited number of species must be increased to accommodate plants that can grow in all four seasons. It could disrupt the simple, elegant plan originally in place before.

In a small garden, care must be taken to have at least one or two plants per species. The plants must all match each other visually.

One could make a compromise and plan for three seasons instead of four as the limited garden space may not be adequate for four seasons.

A landscape architect could plant perennials and then add flowerbeds and annual plants in containers.

The plants in these flowerpots could be changed seasonally making for a refreshing garden look every season.

The growth of the small gardens in urban areas has forced landscape architects to rethink their designs and come up with new innovative designs.

Climate change is now a factor that landscape architects have to reckon with.

They must be forced to innovate to accommodate the changing climate.

A journey into the basic concepts of garden design

Landscape or gardening innovation must be continuous, and all landscape architects must innovate and change their styles to match new weather conditions.  

New habitats emerge, and landscape architects must plan for these new habitats accordingly.

Landscape architects must continually study climate change and how it applies to various habitats. New combinations must be formulated, and flexibility in garden designs must increase. There is no better period for innovation as a landscape architect than now.

THE GARDEN-DEPENDENT

For many owners of small gardens, even the most insignificant corner is an opportunity to gather, cultivate and observe as many plants as possible. In fact, for the garden-dependent, the golden rule is “a specimen of everything”.

We can understand this: the discovery of unusual or unknown treasures always has a remarkable charm.

The variety of plants that can be crammed even in the most cramped spaces is amazing, and can be a real challenge.

However, design is also a question of consistency, structure, organization and visual readability.

In this type of garden, therefore, the materials, the furnishings and the ornaments will respect this rule, so as to show off the vegetable cornucopia in the best possible way.

Using a single material for pots and containers can be a good start.

Even the use of a simple flooring, which uses no more than two materials, will create an excellent background to highlight the chromatic or morphological variety of flowers and leaves.

By choosing dark stones like slate, you will gain greater visibility to the green of the foliage.

Besides creating a much more evocative and interesting atmosphere, it will also be possible to create the illusion of a larger garden.

Walls or partition fences covered with vines will further contribute to the purpose. Without a clear perception of borders, in fact, it will be more difficult to understand where exactly the garden ends.

Moreover, dark materials introduce deeper and more interesting shadows, and the use of trellises, fences or panels in these shades will visually enhance the space. By placing the larger and more scenic foliage plants in the foreground and the smaller ones near the perimeter, you will achieve a greater depth effect, making the garden much more intriguing.

The space for relaxation and sociability, probably, will be a secondary requirement, subordinated to the “cult” of the plants, even if the introduction of seats or benches will allow the garden-employee to feel one with its environment, plunging in nature that loves so much.

THE SOCIAL GARDENER

For some garden owners, the plants are a necessary burden, which forces them to laborious maintenance work; what matters most to them is the pleasure of sharing life outdoors with friends and family.

The small garden then represents a social opportunity: a place to eat and drink, to watch the sunset and the lights of the city with a drink or a beer in hand.

While the garden-employee will work in its own green space, this second type will do it elsewhere: more than the realm of plants, the garden is a background for its recreational activities.

In this case, therefore, the focus will be on the floors, designed to accommodate tables and chairs, a barbecue and maybe a tent or a pergola for shade and privacy.

The water will be included to create sound and movement, balancing the noise of the city if necessary.

And while lighting will be essential to use the garden even after sunset, the plant will be simple and easy to maintain.

Some may even consider spaces totally devoid of vegetation, treating the garden as a sort of outdoor room and optimizing the use of space.

THE SOCIAL GARDENER

While the garden-employee masks the boundaries to create visual depth, the social gardener adores the architecture of space.

We will therefore need more attention to the materials used, the quality and finish of the floors and other structures. In a small space, all connections, joints and surfaces will be more visible, and the possibility of containing expenses or masking some particular inconvenience will be less.

Compared to the previous one, this type of garden is more expensive.

Plants are cheaper than floors and structures, and easier to manage even by amateurs; here, however, a skilled labor force will probably be needed.

Light surfaces such as limestone will be favored, creating a sense of space by simplifying and expanding paved areas, and wooden platforms, which take advantage of the long horizontal lines of the slats to enhance the depth.

As for the plant, clear and defined blocks of vegetation, such as herbaceous plants or bamboo, will be used to reflect or filter the light, while the creepers will be used to create green walls without occupying too much surface on the ground.

COMMON CONCERNS

The designer must know how to capture these different traits in his clients, but must also understand the functional needs of the garden, be it gardening, leisure, children’s play or sun worship. If you are not a professional and want to take care of yourself, take the time to evaluate your needs and your lifestyle.

Be objective and meticulous, because the character and quality of the garden will depend on these first decisions.

Although each garden is a separate case, there are common problems and concerns that can be solved with ease.

Unless a minimal space is desired, the green areas should be as large as possible, to create a good sense of depth, allow a good distribution of the plants and allow light to penetrate between the various forms.

If you choose large flower beds, with compact masses of vegetation, the plants will behave as one in the wind and in the light, creating a very different effect compared to mixed and variegated flower beds.

This approach, however, requires a good amount of space to be effective. A generous vegetation will also allow to mask the most unpleasant corners or borders.

A typical problem of small urban spaces is that often only one or two sides of the perimeter belong to a single owner.

A uniform choice for materials and finishes is therefore very difficult, unless the neighbors are not willing to agree.

Plants, especially creepers and wall shrubs, can serve to harmonize space or create a more coherent approach.

In this way, a square or rectangular lot can become a very different spatial experience. The taller plants and hedges will bring vertical emphasis to the garden, but could give rise to controversy with neighbors.

Ask about the laws in force. Level changes in the form of steps always create greater visual interest, but in tight spaces they can be difficult to incorporate and potentially dangerous.

As a rule, it is always better to foresee more than one, since only one step can easily go unnoticed, especially in summer, when the shadows are shorter.

Two or three steps will make the unevenness of the pavement more evident.

When space is limited, however, a similar drop (minimum 30 cm) may not be obtainable. It is therefore important to draw attention to the presence of steps in another way, for example by changing material for the entire ramp or for one of the levels.

Lighting is also useful for this purpose: lights embedded in the steps illuminate the pitch and solve the problem of safety, creating a pleasant scenographic effect.

Flowerbeds and raised containers are often associated with small gardens.

They confer architectural quality to the space and help keep the plants tidy, keeping the walkable surfaces clean.

Furthermore, if the container wall reaches 45 cm in height, it can also act as a seat. However, raised beds can create aridity problems because they dry out quickly due to wind and evaporation.

Even the materials used in the construction can absorb moisture from the ground, and the plants will suffer, never reaching the desired height or luxuriance.

Again, the solution lies in its dimensions. Increasing the surface of the containers as much as possible will allow a greater absorption of rainwater.

Irrigation is also useful, but we must remember to consider it among the extra costs in the design and construction phase.

It is always better to predict it in the original project than to add it later.

Some systems are based on rechargeable tanks embedded in the container, a preferable solution to the pipes, which require connections between one and the other bed.

Raised containers are particularly suitable for urban gardens, but it is important to pay attention to the walls against which they rest, because they risk creating infiltrations.

If the boundary wall is autonomous, usually the problem does not exist, but when it is part of a building, water can penetrate the waterproof protection and reach the structure.

It is important to remember that gardens are not islands, but are connected to everything around them.

The actions that take place in one’s own space can have consequences on that of others.

It is always good to remember that plants can also be chosen according to the height and shape they will reach; this means that sometimes you can give up the additional height given by the containers, thus also containing the expenses.

The cost per square meter of small urban gardens, in fact, will always be greater than similar spaces in the suburbs or in the countryside.

For the company you are addressing, ease of access and storage of materials and equipment are essential, because many urban gardens are far away and isolated from the road, and parking is non-existent.

In addition, many people deal with the needs of the house first and only later in the garden, which means that the transport of land and waste materials, as well as new ones, must take place through immaculate interiors. There are few landlords who start work from the garden.

PENSILE GARDEN DESIGN

What has just been said is more evident than ever in the creation of hanging gardens.

In these cases, in fact, access is generally via an elevator or a flight of stairs, and the materials are transported by hand from the ground floor.

The rent of a crane is possible, of course, but the costs will rise considerably. The roofs also have specific problems and needs, and safety is of paramount importance.

The opportunity to enjoy panoramic views should be balanced with the need for balustrades of the right height and adequate protection of plants from exposure to the wind, which can dry out the foliage and determine the death of most species, except for the most robust ones.

Often the best thing is to choose plants that thrive in maritime climates, precisely because they tolerate currents, aridity and temperature changes better.

Wind protection is also an important factor in the use of space: in some cases, in fact, it is better to sacrifice a good view in exchange for an adequate shelter.

As for the materials, glass is a popular choice, even if it requires regular cleaning, unless the self-cleaning type (more expensive) is used.

Load limits are another fundamental aspect in the design of a roof garden. In new buildings, the project usually indicates the weight that the roof can support.

In older properties, however, it is possible that the data should be updated or calculated, and before starting work or introducing any heavy plant or article, it is essential to contact a civil engineer.

In condominiums, moreover, it is probable that the roof or what is below you are not your property; careful therefore to avoid any kind of damage to third parties.
Even the hanging gardens provided since the design of the house may have considerable load limits, and you may have to settle for a turf or shrubs and rather low perennial plants.

The smaller plants in fact require less deep soil, and the meadows can thrive even at a depth of only 15 cm.

Drainage layers are also required to prevent the flower beds from getting too wet, and to make sure that excesses are stored and eliminated effectively.

Over the last few years, following the search for more sustainable urban systems, the use of pre-activated absorbent surfaces has spread.

Sedum mats come in the category and are now easy to find. Larger plants, important for their structure and size, need 60 cm to 1.2 m depth, subjecting the roof structure to a much greater load. The trees should generally be placed in specific positions, calculated on the basis of the load-bearing structure, and light materials such as polystyrene can be used to reduce the load.

Even the flooring must be light, or rest on the perimeter walls rather than on the roof. Precisely for these reasons, wood is a very popular choice, with platforms supported by joints similar to those of the floors.

In this case, drainage and waterproofing also remain fundamental: the platforms are excellent for masking the systems and the other structural elements, but it is essential to ensure that no accumulation of water is created in the underlying surface.

The frost could in fact cause invisible damage and allow moisture to penetrate the fabric of the building.

PENSILE GARDEN DESIGN

DIFFICULT SPACES IN GARDEN DESIGN

Some gardens are classified as small because, although they are long, they have a limited area. There are two fundamental approaches to this type of problem: dividing the garden into a series of smaller sectors or visually widening the width.

The first is based on the element of surprise: thanks to the succession of small and diversified spaces, the feeling is lost that the garden is cramped.

Even the link with the home is less moving from one space to another, to the benefit of privacy. The different “rooms” can be defined by walls or fences, which will occupy the smallest possible space.

The hedges will provide structural solidity and architectural quality, while preserving the softness of the vegetation, while less rigid yet structured plants, such as bamboo and shrubs, will create a more relaxed, jungle-like atmosphere.

DIFFICULT SPACES IN GARDEN DESIGN

It is also possible to use each type of subdivision in the same garden, perhaps increasing the level of informality as you move away from the house.

Widening the width means accenting it to the maximum with visual tricks, for example through horizontal paving lines or through steps that extend throughout the space. Small streams or canals, provided with the need for walkways, can be used in the same way.

Walls, hedges or other types of barrier are however possible, for example to mask the length, but the emphasis will always be placed on the horizontal width of the lot.

A third option is to clear the entire area of ​​the garden to use it as a single space, perhaps with a particular sculpture or plant to act as a focal point on the bottom.

With this scenario, the boundary of the boundaries, whether artificial or vegetal, must be very regular and designed for privacy and containment, so as to go almost unnoticed.

Many small gardens fall into the category of “difficult” spaces in almost every sense, configuring themselves as discontinuous and irregular lots, completely devoid of order and structure.

In these situations, many make the mistake of following the boundaries and reclaiming the form in the general scheme of the garden.

In reality, the most effective solution moves in the opposite direction, and consists in forgetting the perimeter of the lot by creating a totally new project within the available area.

Do not worry about wasting precious space: identifying the really usable and functional one and using the vegetation to fill the irregularities, the impact of the borders will decrease drastically, softening the garden.

Finally it should be remembered that it is much cheaper and more efficient to use plants for this purpose than to cut and insert expensive building materials into complex corners and shapes.

All the solutions described above are embodied in the projects presented in this book.

The designers have tried to clarify as much as possible the choices made in the introduction that accompanies the different plans.

Even if you do not find the mirror image of your garden, you can still get inspiration from reading the solutions they have devised.

So you can put your ideas into practice, or contact an expert designer to help you solve any specific problems.

PLANIMETRY FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT IN GARDEN DESIGN

Each project is accompanied by a plan that shows the scheme of the garden, faithfully reduced to scale.

Designers use different colors or sections of varying thickness to give them depth and atmosphere and make them more accessible to the lay reader.

Sometimes other visual supports, such as the elevations, are used to indicate heights; the axonometries, to have a three-dimensional vision; or the perspectives, to show the effect that one tries to find inside the garden.

The elevations or axonometries respect an accurate scale, but the perspectives, however measurable in relative terms, often appear in the form of freehand sketches, precisely because they want to convey a feeling rather than an accurate reproduction.

The common goal is to show the shape that the garden will take at the end.

The computer is increasingly gaining ground in this field, and although in some cases the images created in this way may be somewhat mechanical, there are many techniques, such as photomontage and photo-realistic collage, which produce convincing and dynamic perspectives.

There is a wide range of design approaches, and the graphic techniques, often selected in harmony with the project, vary accordingly, going from the most elaborate style to the simple sketch, from the care for every detail to the minimal taste.


Also read: Playground areas and risk.

30 Jan 2018

TYPES OF GARDENS: Modernist Gardens

Modernist gardens are usually defined by their asymmetry. These gardens have free-flowing space with shadow and light used. These kinds of gardens have complex views unlike the rather controlled vistas that formal, classical gardens have. Most modernist gardens have one or two views that are emphasized. But visitors may not see them the same way since garden designers do not design them to be interpreted the same way. This is because modernist gardens have a partial enclosure of space within hedges and walls. The difference between verticals and horizontals is strengthened with the use of sharp lines. Water is also used architecturally as a reflective surface.

There is a minimal material in modernist gardens. The garden floor is composed of slate or limestone with a little decoration or even none at all. Smooth rendered concrete is used for the paving and the walls.

GARDEN DESIGN - Modern garden

Planting is restricted in modernist gardens. A lot of these gardens have just lawns, hedges and trees interspersed with major architectural specimens.

Modernist gardens have a majorly rectilinear geometry with emphasis on the horizontal line. There are also examples of designs based on ovals and circles. Regular grids can be used to relate the garden with the house further blending the exterior and interior together.

The Modernist Garden Design Style

The modernist garden must create, define and celebrate space. Garden designers must take cognizance of this fact when creating their garden designs. There is an emphasis on the enjoyment of outdoor life and leisure. Plants are architectural elements in this kind of garden. Specimen trees, clipped hedges and large blocks of planting provide simple screens and architectural elements. These complement horizontal expanses of stone, water, timber and concrete.

The modernist garden is quite popular in the United States especially in places like California where gardens are encouraged as outdoor rooms due to the climate. Modernist gardens employ the architectural philosophy of Modernism where planting is seen as just one element of the whole composition and not the major reason for the creation of the garden. These have led to the development of a lot of elegant, beautiful spaces.

DETAIL EXPLANATION OF THE MODERNIST STYLE

Modernist gardens have a style that can be utilized in any garden no matter its size. They are great for use in crowded cities as a form of escape or relief from the rigors of city life. They do not rely on decorative artifacts. They utilize proportion and scale to bring drama to life.

A lot of modernist gardens are based on a geometric plot with a sense of movement provided by the horizontal line of rectangles. The dynamic horizontal lines contrast with the verticals of walls, hedges, trees and cut across space to bring together various sections in a garden.

Garden designers select materials for their surface qualities in modern gardens. The materials include gravel, limestone and polished concrete. They produce expansive surfaces with specimen trees and reflective water serving as gaps. The materials used in these gardens require great architectural precision with high-quality finish. Most urban modernist gardens utilize simple planting, clipped hedges and fine lawns. Sometimes, contemporary garden designer use a palette that is more complex.

MAJOR DESIGN ELEMENTS OF MODERNIST GARDENS

Asymmetry

Modernist designs usually feature a central axis but this feature is quite rare. Lawn rectangles, paving, water and interlock planting can be used to create patterns that are irregular but well defined.

MODERNIST GARDEN DESIGN ASYMMETRY

Contemporary Furniture

Modernist gardens employ garden furniture with architectural styles. The sculptural Barcelona chair and other design classics set the tone for simple tables, exotic recliners and benches that match.

MODERNIST GARDEN DESIGN - Contemporary Furniture - Modern Furniture

Block Planting

The plants used are quite limited and they are planted in large masses and blocks. Perennials and grasses are often interplanted to create movement and catch the light.

 

Modern Materials

Clean lines of concrete, timber, glass and steel emphasize the precision of the manufacturing process. Surfaces are enhanced with subtle lighting and paving joints are minimized.

MODERNIST GARDEN DESIGN - Modern Materials

Reflective Water

Garden designers create modernist garden designs with reflective pools that bring light to a garden and create undisturbed surfaces to a garden. Technology has now evolved to allow water pools to get filled to the brim or even overflow. This way, the impact and the expanse of the reflective surface can be maximized.

MODERNIST GARDEN DESIGN - REFLECTIVE WATER


Also read: TYPES OF GARDENS: Mediterranean GardenTYPES OF GARDENS: Formal Garden

30 Dec 2017

Lets go with the flow with a Water feature

According to the ancient Chinese art of feng shui, flowing water brings with it health, happiness bring the beneficial and harmonious sound of running water to your garden is with a water feature. A well-placed water feature can also become a garden focal point.
Water features add texture and form which is continually changing, and they appeal to all our senses. A water feature can be integrated with an abstract sculpture, mounted on a wall, be part of a swimming pool — or it can be a standalone garden feature.
Water features can be made from a range of materials — natural stone, glass, glass-reinforced concrete, pre-cast concrete, steel or copper — and either pre-fabricated or constructed on site.

WORLD OF CHOICE FOR WATER FEATURE

You have a wealth of water feature options to choose between, including:
• Water walls: Typically, this involves a steady stream flowing down a facade into a hidden reservoir or pool where the water it is then reticulated. Another option is a rain curtain which creates the illusion of falling rain.
• Waterfalls and fountains: Sheer-descent waterfalls look fabulous flowing directly into
a swimming pool. Standalone fountains, whether single or multi-tiered, suit formal spaces. Many are sculpted pieces of art that bring beauty and sound into the garden.
• Water spouts and taps: Arcs of water cascading into a pool or reservoir from a wall are one of the original types of water features from the early Roman era. For a modern twist, stainless-steel spouts combined with a rendered wall can look great.
• Water bowls, pots and urns: Sometimes understated looks best — perhaps a water bowl as a table centrepiece or an urn placed near an outdoor lounge. Even a simple birdbath connects you to water and nature.
• Unique pieces: For something to become a water feature, it need only be watertight and allow water to flow thorough or around it. Preloved kettles, barrels and even wine bottles can be cleverly fashioned into water features, or have one custom designed.

EXPERT TIPS

  • Determine your water feature’s purpose. Is it to screen out noise? To add ambience to an alfresco area? To add a playful element to your pool?
  • Keep in mind that the water feature should harmonise with the overall style, colour scheme and materials used in your garden. And it should complement the design of your home.
  • Don’t make the mistake of buying a feature you like and then look for somewhere to put it. Plan where you’d like to position it first as this will influence the size and style you choose.
  • Consult with a water feature or landscape design expert. They can offer guidance on what’s available to suit your budget and offer advice on pumps, filters and water quality issues.

water feature introduces an air of elegant simplicity.

SOOTHING SOUNDS

Water features can flow, trickle, stream, bubble or arc, creating a varied symphony of sound. The height of the falling water, rate of flow, and whether the water is falling directly into the water or onto something else like rocks, dictates the sound it makes.
Ideally, it should be easy on the ear and not too noisy as it might drown out conversation.
The flow of the water should evoke feelings of serenity similar to the relaxing sounds of the
gentle pitter patter of raindrops on a roof or waves rolling into the shoreline.
Before you commit to a particular water feature, listen carefully to the sound it makes. Is it soothing to the senses or is it a bit jarring? Also see how much water will splash outside the confines of the feature onto grassy areas or tiles.

water feature

PRIME POSITIONING

Aside from the sound and aesthetics, position and proportion are important. A water feature should sit comfortably in the space, not overpower it. The water feature needs to be scaled correctly so it’s not too small and insignificant or too large and dominating.
A well-placed water feature should be able to be enjoyed from many vantage points, including from inside some of the rooms of the home as well as from outdoor entertaining areas. Avoid positioning it in a high wind area or you could get drenched if the water feature is too close to your dining area. And if you don’t want to spend your spare time scooping out leaves, position the water feature away from trees.

ACHIEVING HARMONY

It’s also best if the feature has a relationship to the architecture of the home and the landscape. For traditional or period homes, key components of classic architecture come
to the fore. Fountains with brass taps, bronze elements, masonry and ceramic usually mean there’s an aged component. It’s very different if you were having a conversation about contemporary style — that’s glass and stainless steel. The clean straight lines of steel-framed and pattern-etched glass
or stainless-steel mirrored walls with water flowing down can look very dramatic.
For Eastern-inspired landscapes, bamboo water pipes flowing over rocks or curved ornamental bowls work well, while country-style homes suit cascading rocky water features.

BEING WATER WISE

With precious water a valuable commodity, some homeowners might be concerned that
water features use too much water. It’s a popular misconception. In fact, they use very little. However, if you’re concerned, a pondless or enclosed feature will have less water evaporation.
While water features aren’t maintenance-free,  a dual-pump system (one to run the feature, the other to filter water) reduces ongoing maintenance. The second filtration system runs separately, taking water out of the reservoir and running it through a UV filter and back so the water is turned over
constantly. You’ll also need to top up water levels as needed and skim leaves. What other ongoing maintenance will be needed will depend on the type of feature so check with your supplier.

LIGHTING THE WAY

The soft luminescent glow of lighting is both enticing and inviting and it helps to set the mood. From festive lighting on a pool water feature to get the party started to warm intimate lighting on a wall-mounted feature, there is no shortage of ways to shed some light.
You can highlight a water feature by lighting it from above so the surface of the water sparkles, or below so the play of light and shadows creates movement. Lighting is part of great design. Not to over-illuminate the water feature. The idea is to highlight particular elements of the feature by illuminating them and allowing the rest of it to fade to black.

SOMETHING TO PONDER

A pond creates a calming oasis and brings a garden to life with colour, reflected light and movement. From a simple water bowl planted with miniature lilies to elaborate natural freeform ponds with waterfalls and exotic fish, a pond has universal appeal.
Ponds and even streams are now a much-loved, now we’ve come so far from just having a little hole in the ground down the corner of the backyard. 

A MATTER OF BALANCE

There are many variables that create a healthy pond. With the correct ratio of plants and fish, adequate sunlight and the right pond depth, your pond can naturally evolve into a healthy ecosystem. They key here is balancing the elements. Fish forage for food, their waste is consumed by bacteria, which converts into nutrients for plants to grow and the cycle continues.
If your pond is in a sunny location, aim for 60-70 per cm water coverage with plants such as water lilies, as too much direct sunlight can promote green algae and cause other water quality issues. Your pond also needs to be situated where it won’t be subject to soil or fertiliser run off, which can adversely affect water quality. But with the right location and a healthy ecosystem, a natural pond can bring countless hours of pleasure.


Also read: Garden design and plants: Lavender will add a luxuriant touch and scent to your garden next spring.

02 Dec 2017

Garden design: Illuminate the garden

One important aspect in garden design is the illumination. With the arrival of summer, what’s better than spending time in the open air, under starlit skies, letting it be pervaded by dreamy atmospheres? 

In this scenario, the lighting of outdoor spaces certainly plays a fundamental role. 

Properly designing garden lighting is indispensable to enhance its appearance and enrich your moments of conviviality with elegant and sophisticated scenery. 

In addition to its aesthetic importance, garden lighting plays a key role in home security.

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How to illuminate the garden: guide

Illuminating the garden in the correct way is equivalent to enhancing the spaces and exalting its shades, through scenic effects of lights and shadows.

Basically there are two types of exterior lighting in garden design: the first one is functional, the second is scenographic.

FUNCTIONAL LIGHTING

Functional lighting is the kind of lighting needed to make space safe and livable in the evening.

 An example? Because they are well visible to everyone, it is important to properly illuminate the paths, as well as the patio, the pool, the gazebo, the entrance door threshold, and all the living areas of the garden.

Typically for light-type lighting, lighting installations that use LED technology are preferred, thus offering the ideal solution to maximize space with limited power consumption.

SCENOGRAPHY LIGHTING

The scenic lighting is the kind of lighting that substantially highlights the elements (trees, fountains, walls) through a play of lights and shadows to give rise to suggestive atmospheres.

But it is also scenic the lighting obtained from the luminous furnishings, such as vases, tables, chairs, sculptures.

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Lighting systems in garden design

In the choice of lighting systems, lamps with a soft, diffused, never direct (dazzling) light should be preferred. 

There are various and varied media to choose for outdoor lighting: from spotlights to streetlights, from jars to solar arrays, from spotlights to street lamps. 

Surely creativity will be the key weapon to recreate suggestive settings.

One of the latest novelties is the management of lighting systems by home automation.

 Being able to control the lights comfortably seated from their own sofa, or remotely, allows you to build special scenarios with lights on / off. A valued way to illuminate the garden is to choose solar lighting systems that involve a remarkable energy saving.

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Garden design: Hot or Cold Light?

A question that everyone puts on: what light tone choose to illuminate the exterior?

There are essentially two tones of light, the cold white (5400-6500 ° K) and the warm white (<3300 ° K), and different intensities.

Choosing the color of bulbs depends essentially on people’s taste.

Trendy for gardens featuring a modern design, cold lighting is preferred; Conversely, for traditional gardens, hot lighting is preferred.

But more and more often, gardens are designed where hot tones are mixed with the cold ones.

Do not forget a whole new range of bright effects that create unique atmospheres.


Also read: Garden Design: The Typical Residential Sites.

22 Sep 2017

Garden Design with Lights

With creative lighting, you can create a unique look for your garden at night. Subtle, soft light will bring a few elements into focus and make the best of various colors and textures. But you can get styling options with the use of specialist lighting. You should be careful with electricity and ensure that an electrician is available to go over your garden design plans.

Lighting in a Garden design

If you flood your garden with strong lights that shine from above, you stand the risk of causing light pollution and disturbing your neighbors. Avoid the use of strong lights that create a harsh effect and shine directly into the eyes of onlookers. You should still maintain areas of shadows so that the theatrical effect of garden illuminations will be better felt. Come up with a good landscape design factoring in the type of lighting that will be needed in each area. For a fountain, underwater lighting will be needed. For a barbecue grill, directional spotlighting is perfect. Recessed lighting is perfect for a deck. Work out every plug point and cabling circuit and let a competent electrician go through all your ideas. Various lighting effects can be experimented with by using a large torch or different torches positioned at various angles.

Lights garden design

Practical Considerations for Garden design Lighting

You will need a power supply source unless you want to use a solar powered light. Power cables will need armored ducting to prevent any risk of electric shock. Outdoor sockets that are waterproof should be installed by a competent electrician. When a transformer is used to power low voltage lights, the transformer must be housed in a building or a waterproof casing. The transformer will step down the voltage of the house to a lower one that can be used with many garden design lighting products. The number of lights and the power needed will determine the size of transformer to be used. An indoor switch should be installed by your electrician so you can turn off and on the lights from indoors easily. Areas that will be lit for long periods like the front of buildings should be lit with long life low-energy bulbs. If an area is sunny, solar-powered lighting can be used there. For other places, energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) should be used.

Lighting design outdoor garden

Lighting Effects 

Dichromatic bulbs that change from one color to another and tiny neon-blue LED spots across a decked area make an area look very modern. Colored lighting can be used to light pools, floodlight rendered walls and trees and recessed low-level lighting can be used in decks, walls and steps to cast gentle light without a glare. Mini spots are perfect for highlighting textured plants and uplifting a piece of statuary and an architectural plant. Tiny LED lights will create a romantic atmosphere when they are woven through climbers that are on a pergola.

Types of lighting

The use of energy-efficient LEDs, reliable solar-powered units and the availability of safe, low-voltage lighting has revolutionized garden lighting. Designer lights can now be used for garden lighting. You can get a good choice of lighting products at home improvement stores. But you will get a wider range of products from specialist companies and online stores. Almost every illumination device apart from oil lamps, candles and solar-powered lighting needs to be connected to an electricity supply. A transformer that produces low voltage or a wall socket can be used to power garden lighting. Transformers are great for gardens as they are safer since they reduce the risks of electric shocks. A competent electrician should be hired to handle any lighting and make all electrical connections.

 

Also read: How to Select Materials in Garden Design.