In order to provide those unique garden visions, many developers are leaning on innovative landscape architecture firms to help bring new outdoor living ideas to life
By DAVID B. SALKOWITZ, RLA, ASLA, CLARB
If the heart of a home lives within its walls, then its spirit is surely defined by exterior landscaping that inspires the soul. That’s because nothing sets the stage for the inside of a home like the perfectly arranged outside of a home.
How best to make that happen? Outdoor design speaks to the quality of the home and surrounding community, appealing to the style, fashion, and pride of its builder. Like a beautiful painting, landscaping should mirror the attitude of homebuilders that strive to offer extraordinary interiors and highly programmed exterior garden environments. It should make a statement, no matter how small, and serve as an expression of all the things they love and value.
In order to provide those unique garden visions, many developers are leaning on innovative landscape architecture firms to help bring new outdoor living ideas to life. Ultimately, the home’s unique design – think luxury, modern, urban or classic – should also play a part, as outdoor landscape should align with the architecture. Whether in quiet harmony or brash, complementing contrast, there should always be a connecting thread, in either the layout, hardscape materials, or plant design that makes the landscape work with the architectural style.
Modern garden styles are among some of the most exciting, eclectic designs of our times, offering versatility and uniqueness in ways that are still being explored. Trees with great character and color, sculptural succulents, rock, wood, and distinctive tile veneer and stonework are the kinds of features that cause people to take a step back and take notice. They put the imagination to work and inspire the kind of visionary, creative thinking where one feels free to expand beyond the comforts and safety of traditional design.
Homebuilding future trends look just as exciting, with an effort to create comfortable, yet striking outdoor entertainment venues that feature unique pools, plush seating and dining spots, fireplaces and play areas for gatherings of families and friends. And with the continued uptick in contemporary design in both architecture and gardens at the residential builder level, we are seeing even more dramatic elements that add an artistic flair.
We often work with renowned architects to blend their indoors with the outdoors for a seamless flow, allowing residents to extend the core of their living spaces to the fresh air and easy breezes outside. Swim up bars and spas that meet the interior of a home take full advantage of the Southern California lifestyle. And extensive wraparound porticos framed by climbing vines and a sweeping view of the horizon can offer plenty of “exhale” moments.
And while beauty is always a factor, exterior landscape can also be useful by providing a livable, comfortable source of form and function. According to a report released by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a variety of innovative solutions are being applied by homebuilders across the southwestern U.S. to manage water issues with the creative development of stormwater management to aid conservation efforts.
It’s all about harnessing the power of water to replenish our homes and communities with a valuable resource responsibly and with great care for its use. For those who are concerned that a beautiful garden or dramatic landscaping will require tons of water and hours of tedious care, not to worry. Even swimming pools are actually not a big water waster, unless they are constantly drained and refilled.
Builders can be a part of the effort to utilize water sources responsibly by incorporating water wise plants into their community landscape designs, using quality drip irrigation systems and reclaimed water, and by opting for lot sizes which reduce lawn opportunities and maximize hardscape entertainment areas.
The result allows future residents to infuse their own environmental and philosophical values into the design of their landscape gardens and their homes for great savings, and a satisfying feeling of contribution to the health and well-being of their families and the planet.
Ultimately, the key to achieving a dynamic outdoor landscape design is to embrace the courage to try new things. Experiment with new materials and new ideas. Buck the trends and put your own stamp on your home – for all to see before they even walk through the front door.
David B. Salkowitz is principal and founder of LandCreative, Inc., a landscape architecture and planning design firm in Costa Mesa, CA. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.