Landscape design plans: a case study showing how to design a garden with general criteria, layouts, practical examples and DWG CAD resources to download
This week we’ll be analyzing the various steps to model a garden using a landscape design software. Starting off from landscaping concept we will then examine landscape design plans through a project selection of ornamental plants and furnishing elements. Our aim is to provide professionals and university students a tool that facilitates this type of architectural design.
Using a BIM software we’ll see how some of these aspects have been addressed. This article presents, indeed, graphs, project drawings in dwg and a project model in EDF format ready for download. The EDF file can be opened and edited after downloading Edificius LAND, the landscape BIM design software for gardens, outdoor spaces and terrain modelling by ACCA software, available for a free 30-day trial.
One of the basic principles of garden design is the idea that green spaces are not just a decorative element of the house, but they are an integral part of it. A garden can help to rediscover the simplicity and genuineness of nature that surrounds us.
“Designing a garden today restores value to our free time”
Landscape design plans: preliminary analysis of the context
In order to design a garden you need to start from the assumption that a garden has the same importance as the other house environments.
In fact, the outdoor area should not be considered as an isolated element, but rather an architectural and aesthetic extension of the house that is additionally used for recreational purposes.
The design of a garden or outdoor space is divided into different phases. The first phase usually consists of:
- a site inspection by technical experts to detect possible constraints and limitations due to the type of soil, exposure and climatic conditions, garden strengths and the critical issues that can be eliminated.
- cognitive interviews with the client, to understand the type of request.
The analysis phase is therefore divided into:
- Analysis of customers’ needs
- Photografic/geometric, direct/indirect surveys
- Data collection, projects and cartography
- Investigations on:
- site position;
- characteristics of neighboring areas;
- types and style of existing buildings;
- terrain morphology;
- type of soil and drainage;
- existing vegetation;
- climatic and microclimatic conditions;
The last step of the preliminary phase consists in the drafting of a project program, that is a list of all the elements and the design spaces that must be included in the project.
The conceptual design
The conceptual design consists in the drafting of a conceptual diagram, or a freehand drawing composed of closed curves, lines and symbols that represent the various design spaces (illustrated with closed curves), their arrangement, the relationship between them (illustrated with arrows) and their relationship with the context.
The purpose of the diagram is to provide a general organization of the project after having identified a theme.
The conceptual design wants to highlight the functional relationships between spaces and between elements, thus it is better to avoid too detailed shapes and elements.
Landcsape design plans: verifications before starting to plan
In case of excavations it is important to make sure that there are no underground lines that cross the garden (such as power lines, gas pipelines, special telephone lines). Similarly, just as before fencing the garden area, it is necessary to know whether there are any constraints or easements of passage.
The general design
Once the fundamental elements have been defined, we move on to the actual project.
The general or preliminary design consists in the transition from the concept diagrams to Monge‘s descriptive geometry with measurements and functional indications. In this phase it is possible to reformulate the design choices that are considered not adequate.
The design must be scaled with appropriate metric proportion. Usually the scale used for small and medium-sized gardens is 1 to 100 or 1 to 200.
Representing the idea of garden helps to assess the arrangement and the combinations of plants, their flowering period and how to organize and structure the available space.
It is advisable, even before choosing the plants, to contemplate how to organize the space:
- where to arrange the lawn and how wide this must be
- where to place the area for outdoor lunches
- where to arrange the pool or the pool of water
- where to create a shaded area or an area in the sun
- where to insert the pergola or the car canopy
Finally, an adequate system of plants watering and a correct disposal of rainwater must be conceived together with proper arrangement of perimeter walls and fences.
The specific design
The next phase, the specific or executive design, consists in deepening the degree of detail of the project.
During this phase, you need to choose materials, vegetation, furnishing and define detailed graphs with construction elements.
The garden lighting system should be inserted during the planning phase and requires the use of special outdoor lamps.
The most suitable type of lighting will be chosen depending on the area:
- more soft, scenic and atmospheric in the lawn, near the flowerbeds, hedges or plants
- more intense in areas dedicated to conviviality,
- medium intensity to light up the walkways.
The intensity will be given by the type of light bulbs that will be installed. Once the lighting points and their characteristics have been determined, we proceed with the choice of the type of lighting.
There are three types of lighting systems:
- type of light
- type of lamp
- lamp style
As for the type of light, you can choose between a more classic and warm yellow light, or a cooler light, modern, tending to white. This choice will depend very much on the areas and the style of the house and the garden itself and of course the customer’s taste.
Also for the types of lamp a lot depends on the area to be illuminated and the benefit that comes from the lighting.
Generally, we use:
- spotlights for hedges, swimming pools or walkways
- plant spotlights
- lamps or appliques for the veranda.
The plants selection
In order to choose the right type of vegetation (trees, shrubs, succulents, etc.) it is necessary to consider:
- lot orientation
- function to be assigned to vegetation (visual, acoustic shielding, shading, boundaries, etc.).
Plants should be chosen according to the desired chromatic effect that wants to be obtained. For example, you can focus on concentrating flowering in a few months (usually two or three). In this way there will be a strong chromatic impact over time.
Or you can choose plants in such a way as to have scaling blooms throughout the growing season. In the latter case the blooms will appear distributed “in the leopard spot” during the year.
In addition to flowering (color and age) it is good to think about the distinction between evergreen and deciduous trees. It is always advisable to place a little evergreen in the garden so that this is not completely bare in winter. For the choice of the plants it will be necessary also to evaluate their morphometric characteristics, that is how much they can become tall and how much they can be developed in width.
The choice of materials
Another aspect to examine when creating a garden is the choice of materials.
The materials must ensure durability of the work, consistency with the design concept and safe use.
For example, the flooring can be in natural stone or in gravel rather than self-locking or in artificial stone.
So the pergola or the gazebo can be in wood or iron or in both materials.
With regard to the garden furnishing, it is useful to take into account some important elements.
First of all, we need to choose quality furnishings that are able to:
- resist to atmospheric agents
- combine comfort and aesthetics
- require low maintenance.
Another element to take into account are colours:if you use bright colors in the garden, it is better to choose a decor with neutral colours.
There are different types of watering systems (rotating, swinging, etc.). The choice must be evaluated according to the structure and organization of the garden.
Landscape design architecture: 10 things to consider
Here are some aspects not to forget for a proper garden design.
- Before starting the project, consult the regulations of the relevant Municipality;
- Start off planning with a starting concept;
- To choose the types of vegetation refer to:
- lot orientation
- function that you want to assign to vegetation (visual and acoustic shielding, shading, boundaries, etc.)
- Select the materials so as to ensure work durability, coherence with the design concept and safe use;
- Designing equipped areas in the green (recreation and children’s games areas);
- Provide suitable outdoor furniture (seats, tables, waste bins, etc.);
- Conceiving an appropriate system of watering;
- Provide for a correct disposal of rainwater;
- Provide shading systems;
- Do not neglect perimeter walls and fences.