Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Planting Design

Throughout history planting design has adapted or mirrored the needs of the civilization in which it is used. It is an aspect of the history of gardening as well as the history of landscape architecture.

Planting design in ancient gardens was often medicinal plants mixed with fruits, and vegetables for food and flowers for decoration. Then starting with the Renaissance planting designs moved towards the the aesthetic view of the culture. The two styles which emerged during this period, were formal planting design and naturalistic planting design. These require a knowledge of the culture and ecological setting of the area, as well as a level of horticultural knowledge. The designs were predominantly geometrical (trying to gain some stability in the changing world around them,) and plants were used to form patterns.

Naturalistic planting design originated as early as 200 B.C. in the more eastern areas of the world, namely China, Japan, and India. In the West, the picturesque movement strongly influenced the arrangement of plants in informal groups. These arrangements fit into the landscape garden style.

Planting designs or planting plans now give specific instructions about; size and spacing of plants, plant species to be used, soil preparations needed, and plant maintenance. These plants aid landscape designers, contractors, as well as private owners to develop a design and keep a record of the planting that have been made. Often a planting strategy will be developed to keep track of the long term outlook for the design.

Fundamentals of Planting Design

Plants are the focus of a garden, and as such need to be the main focus of the garden; As opposed to the non-living materials that form the exterior landscape spaces, (i.e. stone, wood,and other hardscape materials.) Plants are extremely dynamic and being such any great design must consider the seasons in which the plants flower and produce fruit, their growth and lifespan, as well as when they reproduce and mature.

The types of plants we choose and how they are arranged must satisfy both the function and purpose of the garden. Planting design is used to harmonize and accent the elements, materials, and qualities of a site; and a good planting design creates the feeling of nature or makes each plant appear as if they belong. It also allows us to experience nature on different levels.

For more information on planting design, and its principles: Planting Design Illustrated by Gang Chen.


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I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.