Often in landscape design we use certain tricks and illusions to achieve specific goals. This week I want to share a couple of them with you.
Let’s say that you have a rather small back yard and would like for it to appear larger. One design trick is to place larger-leaved bolder plant material to the front of the viewing area. Finer-leaved material would go to the second depth layer and even finer material to the very back. This creates an illusion of depth. Think of a drawing that depicts a person reaching out towards you with their hand. Of course their hand is drawn larger than their body to make it look like their hand is closer to you. It creates depth in the drawing. Same with landscape design. If you planted bold-leafed material, let’s say elephant ear, laurel shrubs, camellia japonica, magnolia trees, fatsia, anise and canna lilies in the foreground. Then place medium-leaved camellia sasanqua, hollies, gardenia and roses in the next (middle) layer. In the rear install ornamental grasses, loropetalum, boxwood, nandina and elm trees. It will appear from the back porch that the landscape is deeper than it actually is. The reverse is also true. You can create a more intimate feel to a back yard by reversing the process that I just described.
Theme parks are a great example of purposeful landscaping. A good landscape design has a flow to it that literally pulls people into it, directs the movement and pace of pedestrians and creates a mood by design. The landscape designs at theme parks does all of this and more without your even knowing it. Did you know that certain colors (cool versus hot colors) will encourage you to, for example, spend more at the gift shop? Or that other color combinations can calm your mood and slow you down a little (so that you browse the shops more). You can achieve the same purposeful design at your home or office. Other ‘hotter’ colors can excite you and cause you to move more quickly (if the need is to speed you up in congested areas of the park).
One trick that I use a lot is for situations where you have an undesirable view, perhaps of a neighbor’s unkempt back yard or maybe an unsightly commercial establishment down the road. If you can’t screen the view then we can create a distraction so that you don’t even notice. It is the same misdirection that a magician uses. If we create a beautiful focal point away from the unsightly view the chances are pretty good that you won’t see the ugly view. Motion adds to this effect. If we create a beautiful koi pond with a waterfall in the opposing direction of the ugly view your eyes and attention will naturally focus on the movement and interest of the pond. Again, theme parks commonly distract our attention to one area just so that you don’t notice the less attractive utility areas.
There are many other ways of achieving specific goals with your landscape. When considering a landscape design for an area of your property begin by asking yourself what effect are you trying to create? What mood and feelings would you like to evoke? Are you trying to draw attention to the area or would you rather downplay that area? There are so many effects that can be created with plant selection and placement. Just take a little time to make your landscaping purposeful as well as beautiful.