Aspects of landscape architecture

Garden and landscape design is a substantial part but by no means all of the work of the profession of landscape architecture. Defined as the art of arranging land and the objects upon it for human use and enjoyment, landscape architecture also includes site planning, land planning, master planning, urban design, and environmental planning. Site planning involves plans for specific developments in which precise arrangements of buildings, roadways, utilities, landscape elements, topography, water features, and vegetation are shown. Land planning is for larger-scale developments involving subdivision into several or many parcels, including analyses of land and landscape, feasibility studies for economic, social, political, technical, and ecological constraints, and detailed site plans as needed. Master planning is for land use, conservation, and development at still larger scales, involving comprehensive areas or units of landscape topography or comprehensive systems such as open space, park-recreation, water and drainage, transportation, or utilities. Urban design is the planning and designing of the open-space components of urbanized areas; it involves working with architects on the building patterns, engineers on the traffic and utility patterns, graphic and industrial designers on street furniture, signs, and lighting, planners on overall land use and circulation, economists on economic feasibility, and sociologists on social feasibility, needs, and desires. Environmental planning is for natural or urbanized regions or substantial areas within them, in which the impact of development upon land and natural systems, their capacity to carry and sustain development, or their needs for preservation and conservation are analyzed exhaustively and developed as constraints upon urban design and master, land, and site planning. Within this framework of comprehensive survey, study, analysis, planning, and design of the continuous environment, garden and landscape design represents the final, detailed, precise, intensive refinement and implementation of all previous plans.

Ideally, all of these planning and design phases follow one another closely in a continuous sequential process, but this rarely happens. Various levels of planning and design are performed by different people at different times; often the more-comprehensive phases are not performed at all or are performed in an oversimplified manner. The wise gardener or landscape architect, therefore, always begins with a careful analysis of conditions surrounding the project.

Garden and landscape design deals with the treatment of land areas not covered by buildings, when those areas are considered important to visual experience, with or without utilitarian function. Typically, these land areas are of four types: those closely related to single buildings, such as front yards, side yards, and backyards, or more-extensive grounds; those around and between groups of buildings such as campuses, civic and cultural centres, commercial and industrial complexes; those bordering and paralleling transportation and utility corridors such as parkways, freeways, waterways, power easements; and park-recreation open-space areas and systems. These areas may be of any size, from small urban courtyards and suburban gardens to many thousands of acres of regional, state, or national parks. Although usually conceived as vegetated green spaces on natural ground, they can include also playgrounds, urban plazas, covered malls, roof gardens, and decks, which may be almost entirely formed by construction and paving.

Garden and landscape design, therefore, works with a wide range of natural and processed materials capable of holding up well in the specific local climatic conditions of the site. These materials include earth, rock, water, and plants, either existing on the site or brought in; and construction materials such as concrete, stone, brick, wood, tile, metal, and glass.


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