Landscape design and the environment. Limiting Factors in Landscape Design

The design of your front yard landscaping, your backyard landscaping, and in particular your hard landscaping, is subject to many factors that influence it in one way or the other. This is just your basic “make sure you thought of everything before landscaping” checklist. Of course, with every landscape design being unique, there may be other considerations not mentioned here. Of these factors we are all aware of and might even seem superfluous to mention, but none the less. Following is a brief discussion on these factors:


Do you live in the desert, on the coast, in the tropics, in the Mediterranean? The climate in essence determines the types of plants that you will use. Just imagine trying to grow tropical plants in a desert landscape. Here the main questions that you need to ask when designing your garden would be:

  • What type of landscape plans will best suit the local climate and would not require excessive watering?
  • Consider the wind current and strength in your landscaping. Do you need plants or other elements such as walls or fences to be used as wind screens?

Different types of Soil

The types of soil influence drainagecondition and pH level. Of the different types of soil that one encounters the most recognizable for gardeners to note is the clay soil and the loam soil. The sandy soil is usually the one that we know almost instinctively should be enriched. Making the sandy soil into humus soil will be to the benefit of the plants that will be planted there. Heavy, clay soil does not drain well and you will be required to implement underground drainage or take the other option of mixing sand into the soil. Making soil amendments can be a limiting factor in that it may become quite costly. Other important questions that beg asking would be:

  • Do slopes or the landscape need to be changed to accommodate for water drainage? (Yard drainage influences the types of plants that one can plant and will serve one well in combating possible soil erosion.)
  • In fact: Do you require having a drainage system put in place? Will steps or terracing need to be installed for slope or elevation changes?

One thing is certain though, garden soil should be tested so that the gardening attempts will not be in vain.

Existing plants

It is sometimes preferable to retain mature trees and shrubs, since these shrubs could be evergreen shrubs and even flowering shrubs which would be a pity to loose and even costly to replace at a later stage. You also have to bear in mind that of the available fast growing shrubs might not fit in with your overall design and plan for your garden. However, you could have it removed only if it does not fit into the overall front yard landscape or backyard landscape design theme that you envisage for your garden. Existing shrubs and trees and their relation to the landscaping and your new design should be noted. Ask yourself these questions when making a decision as to whether to retain or remove existing vegetation:

  • Will shade from existing trees affect plant selection, structure placement, pond placement, or activity areas?
  • Do some shrubs need to be removed or changed? Are there areas where you’ll want more shade?

Also when it comes to existing shrubs and trees as well as envisaged bushes and shrubs you need to observe the view from the outside of the house looking in and (most people forget this one) from the inside looking out. Your view from inside the house can be just as pleasing as being outside in the garden. If you want to see it, consider placement of large structures and plantings. Cute little plants grow up to be big plants. The main question to ask would then be:

  • Can existing or newly planted shrubs, plants, or trees be used to either enhance or block out certain views?
  • Can existing or newly planted shrubs, plants, or trees be used to either enhance or block out noise?
  • Do you need more protection or privacy in the front or back yard?

Neighbors, existing walls, trees and noise

You might need to screen your garden if there is an unsightly wall between you and your neighbors or you might need to make use of screening plants for privacy purposes. Or large neighboring trees will compete with your garden in terms of sunlight, etc. You need to take this factor into consideration when drawing up your front yard and backyard landscape design plan.

Municipal regulations

Covenants and regulations of factors such as heights, wall types and structures will also impact on your front yard and backyard landscape design plan.


This factor goes hand in hand with municipal regulations. Water pipes, sewer pipes, underground cable all influences where and how you should design your garden. You for instance cannot plant large plants, or plants that have aggressive root systems near these conduits that hosts these services. In fact your overall front yard and backyard landscape design plan should indicate these services for more than mere reference purposes.

Family and personal needs

Functional and practical landscaping should be considered an outdoor extension of your home. There should be activity areas outside just as there are inside your home. These areas might include a living area, a kiddie’s gardenwork areapublic or entertaining areaentrances, and flower garden or vegetable garden areas. If you are serious about health then organic gardening and the accompanying vegetable container gardening would be the answer. The outdoor areas or rooms should be natural extensions of your indoor areas. You should also consider asking yourself the following questions when drawing up your overall front yard and backyard landscape design plan:

  • What about vehicle access to your backyard? Do you need a large gate – perhaps in your back fence?
  • Do you have time to practice good, regular garden maintenance?
  • Do you need your garden to be one that lends itself to low, medium, or high maintenance landscaping?
  • Do you want a lawn to mow and water, a pool or garden pond to clean, shrubs that will require trimming, plants that require pruning, leaves that require raking, an irrigation system, etc.?
  • If you do want a lawn, how big does it need to be and why?
  • What about the proverbial garden shed?
  • Does the amount of garden implements you have warrant the need to create storage space?
  • Do you want the garden shed to be a focal point or do you need to conceal it in case you have toddlers?
  • What if you have garden tools such as a small garden tractor, besides the obvious spade, rake and hoe?
  • Do you want your toddlers or even slightly older children to have access to these implements?
  • Are you into white noise and water features like garden fountains, waterfalls, pools or garden ponds?

Consider the spaces required for this type of water gardening and do include them in your front yard and backyard landscape design plan. Indoor wall water fountains make a wonderful addition to your office or home decoration. Water fountains are soothing, gorgeous to behold and make great focal points. It can be used to the same effect outside in the garden.

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