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Designing a Landscape Plan

Designing a Landscape Plan

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved


Basic Landscape Design Series with Larry Sagers and Paul Quist

Whether you're designing a first-time landscape or remodeling an existing landscape, learn the steps for creating a look that you will enjoy. The class will cover creating focal points, entryways, how to frame your home or preserve a view and water wise landscaping.

The class includes personal consultations with Advanced Master Gardeners who will go over the plans that you create in the class.

The class also include a landscape design booklet for Utah. Fee: $40.00

Call 801-768-7443 or go to and go to the education link.

All landscapes have three principal areas. Spend some time to help design these correctly and you will enjoy a well-designed public, private and service area.

The public area is the most visible landscape area. It frames the home and emphasizes the focal point. Blend the house with the surroundings for a natural look by using plants. Combine the strong horizontal lines of the ground with the vertical lines of the structure to create a pleasing, attractive appearance.

The design of the public area maintains open vistas to the home, softens the architectural lines of the pavement and structures, and frames the home with plants.

The doorway of the house usually serves as the focal point. Use landscape plants to draw the eye to the focal point. The best designs are simple, easily maintained and without frills and distractions. Trees in the public landscape should not bisect the house.

Balance and proportion are important when selecting all plant materials. Select and use plants skillfully to enhance the formal or informal architecture of the home.

Service areas contain the landscape unmentionables. Acknowledge the need and design them accordingly. Clotheslines, garbage cans, firewood, compost piles, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and utilities are all part of the service area.

Add storage for lawnmowers, snow blowers, garden tools, fertilizers, outdoor furniture, recreational vehicles and equipment and the service area expands even further. Service areas need to be convenient and screened from scrutiny. Avoid the temptation to make them too large! Possessions usually expand to fill the available space.

Some service functions can be placed in other areas if they are skillfully designed. Skillfully chosen vegetables are attractive in flower and border plantings or fruit trees can double as landscape ornamentals. Play equipment may go into either area but create play areas so small children are easily seen from the house.

Living areas of the landscape are extensions of the living areas of the home. Make personal designs that reflect the habits, needs, and desires of the family. Define these areas by creating and emphasizing walls, ceilings, floors, and windows of the outdoor room or living area.

The focal points are the windows of the outdoor room. They form the views we frame and enhance. Plan for and use them carefully. They may include selected trees or shrubs, garden structures, statuary, fountains or a picturesque view. Plant materials also serve as curtains for areas best screened from view.

The floor of the outdoor room is generally turf, although ground covers or hard surfaces are used. Paving surfaces of many kinds, including those used in patios and decks and ground covers, are part of these floors.

The walls may be any structures and plant materials that form the borders of the living area. The first walls are usually fences, but as landscapes grow and mature, fences are enhanced and supplemented by plants.

Plant walls become higher and more natural and create beautiful, appealing living areas. The ceiling of the outdoor room is mostly sky but it is softened, blended and framed by the overhead canopy of patio covers and tree branches.

Consider the needs and desires of the entire family before designing the living area. Include recreational equipment, outdoor relaxation and cooking areas, and specialty gardens such as water features or rock gardens.

Living areas are dynamic -- as the ages and interests of families change, gardens can change. Play equipment and sand boxes may be replaced with decks and flowerbeds as the family changes.

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