Exciting Garden Design by Christine Bell - The Building Press Issue 9 August 2007

Home garden design is exciting.
It involves art, science and good listening skills. The more clients can tell the designer about their needs and thoughts the better. Don’t worry about saying too much and ‘limiting’ the designer – you wont. They know that if they have a flash of brilliance outside the square you will want to know about it.

The site ‘speaks’ too. It has a life of its own. It will have potential that you may not have even thought about. It is the designers job to be aware of the potential of the site and with an awareness of clients’ needs to produce a proposal that the clients alone may never have thought of. Not something ‘way out’ but something appropriate. Many people say ‘that’s great! I would never have thought of that!’ Design evolves from within, with an awareness of outside parameters.

When placing pools, spas or other structures in the landscape it is always important to keep in mind spatial character. There is a tendency to locate structures in the centre of spaces. Unless you are wanting a strongly structured formal axis this is not always wise as central placement can negate an open character which may be essential to the free flowing quality of a space.

What about fashion? Well there is a place for it, but I prefer to seek the place that underlies the fashion. Fashion comes and goes but good design is timeless. It endures. Sometimes it is the materials that are available or ‘in vogue’ that suggest fashion. It is important that you use materials to create the character or feeling that you want.

I enjoyed the range of paving materials on display at this years Star home show. There is such an opportunity to create character with the use of contrasting paving materials. For example a front door can sometimes get ‘lost’ and ‘overpowered’ by the proximity of the garage. Paving materials are one way to add emphasis to the front door area. It’s where people arrive and enter your home. It is important that it is welcoming. The use of contrasting materials on the driveway can create a very stylish welcoming entrance area.

When there are many materials available there is a need to be discerning.

It is important that you use what you like. The materials you use and the way you use them, must be done in a way that resonates with you. At the end of the day you will be living with them.

Often people know what they like when they see it but don’t know how to achieve it. This is where the landscape architect can help you.