Our Approach:The Role of Landscape Design in Your Custom Home Project
Throughout our website, social media posts, and our client meetings, our firm echoes the benefits of a home design process that thinks of the home from all angles in order to create a seamlessly timeless and luxurious environment that meets your functional and lifestyle needs.
One of the most important angles, and one that is most often forgotten about when seeing through the process, is your home’s landscape design. While there are a number of reasons that homeowners approach the landscape design process last, we wanted to provide some insight into why we consider landscape design to be so important for any project that our firm commits to designing, and why we develop the landscape design concurrently with both the home design and the home’s interior design.
Exterior Landscape Design Compliments Exterior Architecture
Depending on the nature of the design style (or styles) you are trying to achieve, exterior landscaping can serve to highlight one specific style or marry two styles together cohesively. We achieve this through the use of historic, outwardly modern sleek stone work, or shrubbery and tree selection with mutual species common to the area of the origins of the design style at hand if possible. Exterior tree lighting and wall washers can highlight and compliment the proportions of the structure as well! Below is one of our favorite examples of the utilization of wall washers in a 3D rendered model to help us understand how the structure will look during the late evening and night hours. These models also help us understand the feel and ambience of the exterior entertainment setting.
Exterior Plant Selections Characterizes the Interior
The shrubbery you select for your gardens that are situated close to large windows in common areas play an important role in your home design most don’t realize. These plant selections add a touch of colour and texture to each space, and this of course changes during different seasons. Utilizing this as a tool to create a range of seasonal colours and features offers a touch of natural beauty in each room that we cant replicate. It also allows you to utilize garden lighting to create a sense of warmth and ambient lighting for both exterior and interior spaces, as this lighting is often used to highlight specific trees and plants while offering visibility in the absence of direct lighting. Below we have included a photo of our contemporary French Country home, where the intentional placement of a natural Japanese Maple tree in the exterior garden is framed beautifully by the floor to ceiling window in the space, complimenting the natural earthy palette that characterizes the interior.
Indoor to Outdoor Connection
Your backyard should serve as an escape that is truly an extension of your living room. While this can be designed in a way that supports entertaining, family fun, or larger events, there’s a few features that we strongly recommend to create this indoor/outdoor connection. Some of these features include an indoor/outdoor sound system and lighting system, exterior patio heaters, covered loggias with in-floor heating, exterior kitchens, exterior fireplaces, and of course unique pool and tanning areas. To make it feel even more like a well conditioned space, we recommend the use of outdoor washable rugs, exterior chandeliers, and outdoor furniture that offers the same plush comfort that indoor furniture normally would. Check out an example of the indoor outdoor connection we created at our Modern Astoria project below by utilizing a large accordion style door that offers direct access to the rear deck, jacuzzi, and outdoor dining area.
Ambient Garden Lighting for Entertainment Spaces
Ambient exterior lighting can create a unique environment for exterior entertainment areas. Typically these would be used to provide a warm glow surrounding the seating areas, while offering additional visibility in high traffic areas. In addition to this we would normally design the lighting plan to highlight different trees in a symmetrical and orderly manner, creating a sense of organization and luxury in any backyard. Other options such as pool lighting can also add a different intended effect to the space. Below we have included two examples of the ambience the exterior garden lighting created in our early phase renderings of the Tudor Revival project in Rosedale.
Municipal Planning Process Efficiencies
The municipal planning process can significantly benefit from the integration of landscape design clarifications when submitting your zoning drawings for review. Providing information from a registered arborist upfront that assesses the impact of the home’s construction on the surrounding tree roots, identifying if any trees could be harmed, and providing a comprehensive replanting plan if this will be the case are often refreshingly proactive steps to take from a city examiners point of view, as this documentation will almost surely be requested in most cases. In addition to this, offering sediment control plans when working in ravine zones, offering detailed grading plan details, outlining the locations of softscape and hardscape areas, and the locations of any desired auxiliary structures such as cabanas, pool houses, and garden suites are all important factors to consider as they can affect zoning as well as your conservation authority approval timelines.
Designing a landscape plan allows you to efficiently and effectively hide any water management tools required to capture water from the roof of the home while avoiding flooding or additional strain on the homes weeping tile system. Tools such as French drains or soaker pits are great ways to take as much water as possible away from the foundation of the home. In addition to this, the ability to design the proper sloping and directions of the necessary swales in the hardscaping plan is far easier from a high level view! In addition to these benefits, one of the most important features of undertaking landscape design alongside the architectural design process is the ability to design the roof sloping and water run off locations in conjunction with the landscape plan. The result is typically that you can pick your downspout locations in advance, allowing you to hide these as much as possible.
When designing a home, it is important to consider the surrounding landscape to ensure that the design blends harmonious with the exterior environment. Landscape design can help soften the edges of the building, creating a seamless connection between the building and the surrounding nature. The use of natural elements like plants, rocks, and water features can also enhance the visual appeal of the design, making it more inviting and appealing to the eye. The goal is that from the minute you enter the driveway, the house, or the backyard, visitors are wrapped in a seamlessly designed environment that feels cohesive from front to back. While many believe that this can be achieved through thinking about landscape design after the fact of the homes construction being completed, we beg to differ. A clear example of this is being able to design the home’s footprint to accommodate natural features as seen at our Meditteranean Beach House project in Oakville.The creation of an alcove in the foundation footprint that is home to an exterior garden does far more than that. In fact, it is used to harness natural light while providing the interior with a connection to exterior natural features. Check out one of Jesse’s sketches depicting this feature.
Another great example of an integrated design and landscape design approach is the creation of the basement light-well at our Contemporary French Row-House in downtown Toronto. The wall of the window well was extended into the backyard as deep as the rear deck (almost 10 feet of space that would have been otherwise unused), and a floor to ceiling window was placed in the basement, allowing a wealth of South facing natural light to enter the basement through the light well. Of course, this is no ordinary window well, as low maintenance shrubbery, pea gravel, and garden lighting provide both a connection to the exterior as well as ambience to the below grade space!
Improved Construction Coordination
By understanding the landscape design plans, everyone involved in the project is able to work together harmoniously and construction sequencing can be arranged around the most efficient and cost effective manner. This naturally takes place as a result of informing contractors of predetermined locations for mechanical equipment for example. In this scenario we are able to design the backyard so that there is a dedicated place for this equipment so it is out of site, and in an area where we can noise levels for neighbouring properties as well as your backyard entertainment area. Another great example of this level of planning benefitting our clients is when we knock down an old home that has small walkways leading to the backyard. In this scenario our teams would excavate and install in the pool base before the new foundation forming/pouring starts while access is available. Lastly, and one of the best examples that most don’t think of until its too late is being able to understand where specific trees go to avoid running mechanical through those zones.
Underground trenches that are home to conduits can easily be laid as a precaution to avoid mishaps down the road when doing landscaping, but they will get in the way of gardens, pools, shed foundations, and sprinkler feeds. The goal is to master plan the landscaping from a high level in order to accommodate all of these items and to ensure the most cost and time efficient construction scheduling.
Landscape design can play a crucial role in mitigating environmental issues that can arise from building construction. For instance, the use of green roofs or rain gardens can help manage stormwater runoff, reducing the risk of flooding and erosion for lots that back onto ravines or unique elevations of landscapes. Additionally, landscape design can help protect the soil from erosion and preserve existing trees and vegetation, ensuring that the environment remains healthy and sustainable. Below, our the green roof above the front entrance creates a connection to the exterior nature while functionally managing the stormwater that will collect in this space.
Increased Property Value
The integration of landscape design into architectural design can significantly increase the value of a property. This is because a well-designed landscape can enhance the visual appeal of the property, create a sense of privacy and tranquility, and provide functional outdoor spaces that increase the usable living area. Moreover, properties with appealing outdoor spaces can attract potential buyers or renters who desire this lifestyle the landscape design offers, without having to go through the effort of taking on their own landscape design and construction project.
Improved Quality of Life
Well-designed outdoor spaces can improve the quality of life for the end user. Research has shown that being in nature can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and promote physical well-being. By incorporating landscape design into architectural design, property owners can create an environment that encourages outdoor activities and connects residents with nature. This can lead to a more balanced and healthier lifestyle that also supports your entertaining and social schedule. An example of a desirable outdoor entertainment space has been included below. This backyard space offers a covered bar, kitchenette, and dining area beside the large dipping pool and tanning areas. Beech trees, and boxwoods line the planter boxes leading to this area.
Popular Landscape Design Styles
With that all being said, there are also a range of landscape design disciplines, similar to that of homes that each include their own unique shrubbery and tree features depending on climate, and of course different organizational parameters as well. Check out some of our favorite landscape design styes below
Traditional Landscape Design
The traditional landscape design style is known for its symmetrical, balanced layouts, often featuring formal gardens with geometrically shaped shrubs and trees, and classic features such as fountains, topiaries, and statuary. Traditional landscapes often incorporate hardscaping elements such as brick or stone walkways, patios, and walls. The color palette is typically focused on shades of green with occasional bursts of color from flowers or foliage. Some famous examples of traditional landscape design include
- The gardens at the Palace of Versailles in France, which feature a formal French garden with geometrically shaped hedges, fountains, and ornamental pools.
- The gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy, which are known for their terraced gardens, water features, and ornate fountains.
Modern Landscape Design
The modern landscape design style emphasizes clean lines, geometric shapes, and a limited color palette. Materials such as concrete, steel, and glass are often used to create a minimalist, contemporary look. Modern landscapes often incorporate hardscaping elements such as pavers or decking, and are typically low-maintenance. Some famous examples of modern landscape design include
- The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, which features a modernist garden with a combination of native plants, succulents, and other drought-tolerant species.
- The High Line in New York City, which is a public park built on an abandoned elevated railway that features a sleek, modern design with contemporary plantings.
Cottage Landscape Design
The cottage landscape design style is inspired by the English countryside and features an informal, relaxed layout. Cottage gardens often include a mix of ornamental and edible plants, with features such as arches, arbors, and trellises creating a cozy, inviting atmosphere. Some famous examples of cottage landscape design include
- Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire, England, which features a series of outdoor “rooms” with hedges, pathways, and cozy seating areas.
- Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, England, which is known for its informal cottage garden design, featuring a mix of colorful flowers and foliage.
Mediterranean Landscape Design
The Mediterranean landscape design style is inspired by the gardens of the Mediterranean region and features a mix of lush greenery, colorful flowers, and ornate features such as fountains, tiles, and stonework. Mediterranean landscapes often include terraces, courtyards, and pergolas, and are designed to create an outdoor living space that is comfortable and inviting. Some famous examples of Mediterranean landscape design include
- Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which features a series of outdoor courtyards with lush plantings, ornate fountains, and geometric tiles.
- Villa Lante in Bagnaia, Italy, which is known for its Renaissance-style garden design, featuring terraces, water features, and topiary sculptures.
Tropical Landscape Design
The tropical landscape design style is characterized by lush, exotic foliage, vibrant colors, and a relaxed, informal layout. Tropical gardens often incorporate features such as palm trees, water features, and outdoor lounging areas, creating a lush, tropical oasis. Some famous examples of tropical landscape design include
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, which features a wide variety of tropical plants and trees, including palms, orchids, and bromeliads.
- Bali, Indonesia, which is known for its lush tropical landscapes featuring waterfalls, rice terraces, and jungle canopies.
Desert Landscape Design
The desert landscape design style is designed for arid environments and features plants that are adapted to drought conditions. Desert landscapes often incorporate rock features, succulents, and cacti, and are designed to create a low-maintenance outdoor space that blends seamlessly with the natural environment. Some famous examples of desert landscape design include
- The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, which features a wide variety of cacti and other desert plants, as well as a sculpture garden and a butterfly exhibit.
- The Joshua Tree National Park in California, which is known for its striking desert landscape, featuring a unique blend of rock formations, Joshua trees, and other desert flora and fauna.
Japanese Landscape Design
The Japanese landscape design style is inspired by traditional Japanese gardens and emphasizes simplicity, serenity, and harmony with nature. Japanese gardens often incorporate features such as water elements, gravel, and carefully placed rocks and plants, creating a tranquil, meditative atmosphere. Some famous examples of Japanese landscape design include
- Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, which is known for its iconic rock garden, featuring 15 large rocks placed in a bed of white gravel.
- Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, which is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, featuring a traditional tea house, a bonsai collection, and a variety of garden styles, including a strolling garden and a sand and stone garden.
These are just a few examples of the many landscape design styles that exist, and there are many more unique styles and famous locations that incorporate these design principles. When choosing a landscape design style, it’s important to consider your own personal taste, the climate and environment of your area, and the specific features and elements that you want to incorporate into your outdoor space.
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