What Is Good Landscape Design and Why Does It Matter?

landscape design with stream
Good landscape design makes the stream look like it’s always been there and the house was built around it.

Most people are drawn to a beautiful landscape design, but they’re not certain why and if design really matters.  Isn’t it enough to have a pretty yard that fits your budget and has all your functional requirements and desired features?

Well, that’s a good start, but the new science of design is proving that there is more to it than meets the eye.

What is good design?

The ancients used a formula to determine beautiful design.  They called it the Golden Rectangle (about 5 by 8).  This ‘magical’ proportion occurs in the shapes of credit cards, books, televisions and even paragraphs.  It also provides the structure for the face of the Mona Lisa, the facade of the Parthenon and the original iPod.  What the Golden Rectangle does is balance its sides so that they’re integrated.

There are several design principles that make up a good design such as: scale, form, texture, balance, etc.  The best landscape designs use all the design principles and integrate them so that your landscape is balanced.  Even asymmetrical natural design needs to be integrated to achieve the ultimate beauty.

Just as a paragraph is shaped to make your eye move faster over the page, a good design that integrates all features will entice your eye to move seamlessly over your landscape and help your brain to fully take in the natural beauty.

What difference does good design make?

While you can receive value from simply looking at nature, you can get even more benefit, quicker and easier, when the landscape design is integrated and harmonized.  Here is how you will benefit:

Increased Health: Years of studies show that spending time in green spaces: boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, accelerates recovery from illness or surgery, and improves sleep.  This is why hospitals have been adding healing gardens to their landscapes.

Increased Productivity:  Numerous studies performed by Kaplan and Kaplan, at the University of Michigan, found that attention is compromised when working on tasks for long periods of time.  When you notice that you are unusually distractible, impatient, forgetful, overwhelmed and cranky for no physical reason, you may be suffering from what Kaplan and Kaplan call ‘Directed Attention Fatigue’ (DAF).  DAF also affects your ability to plan, make sound judgments and relate to others.  The Kaplans’ work concluded that experiencing nature will restore your attention so that you can be more productive, calm, happier and more empathetic.

Relief from Depression: Medical Daily reports that a 2006 study found that contact with nature could help prevent mental health disorders.  A 2010 study at the University of Rochester showed that participants spending only 20 minutes outdoors in nature boosted energy levels and increased vitality for life.

Increased Creativity: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a study performed at the University of Kansas showed that your creativity is enhanced the more time you spend outdoors.  The study showed that when you relax in nature, then your mind rests and you let down those threat responses from life’s constant distractions leaving your brain more space to think creatively.

Increased Memory:  The Wall Street Journal also cited several studies which found that time spent in nature provides cognitive benefits.  Among them was a study that where a group of teens who spent time walking in an arboretum did better in short-term memory tests than students who had walked down busy streets.

Stress Relief:  Last, but not least, is the demon ‘stress’ that hounds us all.  The University of Washington wrote that more than 100 studies have shown that relaxation and stress reduction are significant benefits associated with spending time in green areas.

Good landscape design, coupled with nature, encourages mental and physical health.  Add a touch of fascination and mystery like Leonardo da Vinci with his Mona Lisa, and imagine the power your outdoor space will have to enhance your life.

At Peter Bochenek and Associates, Inc., we apply the time-honored principles of design to create artistic landscapes and ensure that your landscape design will integrate seamlessly into your property – as if it’s always been there.  Listening to our clients’ unique interests and creating a design that reflects their lifestyle, tastes and budget are our goals.  We welcome the opportunity to bring to life your dream of a special outdoor environment that feels just right.

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