Part of the enjoyment of working in the residential sphere of Landscape Architecture in Canterbury is the opportunity to work at a range of scales, with an equally wide range of clients.
Projects can range from a spacious lifestyle block in Ohoka to a pocket sized urban courtyard in a high density central city residential housing development. An effective landscape plan will see the same principles and design process applied, regardless of the size of the land parcel in question. The design elements incorporated at both ends of the scale can often be similar, but utilised to reflect the differing project requirements and restraints.
Landscape design in a rural context is no less complex than its urban counterpart but by nature is generally less intensive with the design elements and project costs spread over a broad area. A good understanding of the resulting maintenance requirements must be evident, or the design aspirations may never be realised.
A useful concept I learned from a cherished design mentor, that can be applied to keep maintenance levels in check, is that of the golf course, where the course and its surrounds are broken down into the ‘green’, the ‘fairway’ and the ‘rough’. This concept is useful to both organise and describe the resulting spaces and required maintenance input of a rural landscape design.
When applied these conceptual areas may look as follows: ‘The Green’: The immediate area around the house and other key structures, where the design is of a finer scale with more detailed planting and the highest maintenance requirement. ‘The Fairway’: A wider area visually and spatially connected to the house, still exhibiting elements of design, but with restrained detail and a reduced maintenance load. Lastly ‘The Rough’ : The extremities of a property which may only be occasionally viewed or frequented and possibly only consist of lawn and trees with mowing and an occasional spray and mulch around them the only maintenance needed.
It’s pretty obvious when you visit a rural property if the owner has created an environment that matches their maintenance skill and budget. Good planning and design can prevent the lifestyle block slowly morphing into the often referred to and dreaded ‘life sentence’ block.