Many early opportunities in landscaping stemmed from inventions and social developments of the industrial age. The introduction of the lawn mower solidified the lawn as the primary feature of residential property. The 20th century also brought the entrenchment of the automobile in American society and the need for more and better roads. Landscapers were essential to this development. They designed and planned roads, including highways and parkways – roads that differed from straight urban grids by following the contours of the land.
Arguably the most significant development in landscaping came with the suburbanization of the U.S. orchards, etc. – to homes with outside areas for playing and socializing. Backyard cookouts flourished, opening the yard as an expression of personal style. Late in the 20th century, the development of the home as a place of refuge, environmental concerns, the desire for individual expression, calls for social responsibility, and economic conditions led to new trends in landscaping.
Landscape architects use both art and science to plan and design outdoor space in a way that meets functional, safety, and other requirements. Their work addresses the association of artificial and natural outdoor environments; creating space that combines both functional and aesthetic features. The most important and most unique aspect of landscape architecture is site planning.
Landscape architects lead project management and provide technical advice on conservation and management of natural resources, and historic preservation. The variety and accessibility of today’s media and lifestyles mean landscape design examples, professionals, and materials are widely available. Three trends are particularly hot in landscaping:
• “Using” the Outdoors
Both residential and non-residential landscaping caters to the expanding visions of how to “use” the outdoors. From residential outdoor rooms to healing gardens at healthcare facilities, from no-maintenance yards to nature trails, broad and changing demographics and lifestyles point to broad opportunities for landscapers.
• Environmental/Green Issues
Uneasy awareness of environmental conditions has reached a tipping point and flowed into the mainstream. “Green” landscaping addresses design, materials, and maintenance of properties. Conservation of resources, sustainable design, reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers, green building, and other environmental issues have begun to dominate landscape designs and construction. Important components of designs will be green roofs, water retention, and irrigation.
The newest buzzword in the industry is xeriscaping, and this practice will be the next big trend. Xeriscaping grew out of environmental concerns in Colorado and its practice has spread throughout the U.S. Xeriscaping involves the use of native vegetation and reduced use of water in landscape design.
Features of Outdoor Design
Landscaping is more than creating a garden in the backyard. customized creation of an outdoor setting incorporating both “softscape” (plants and living materials) and “hardscape” (walls, pools, decks, gazebos, and other non-living features). Residential landscaping design uses myriad special features to create functional and beautiful outdoor living areas.
In addition to plant materials, designs feature decks, porches, and patios; fences and walls; pathways; gazebos; fountains; ponds and pools (and not just swimming pools); heaters; upscale furniture; and custom lighting (for both aesthetics and security purposes). Some of the more unusual (and expensive) elements are state of the art outdoor stereo systems, weatherproof plasma televisions, and home theaters. Appliances, artwork, and consumer electronics can be incorporated into retaining walls and be operated with waterproof remote controls.
For decades, environmental issues have been important to landscapers and their clients alike. In recent years, heightened awareness of global warming, pollution from engine (including lawn mowers) exhaust, soaring gasoline prices and consumption, water shortages, reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers, and attention to sustainable environments have strengthened the importance the landscaping industry.
Landscapers are helping to establish design trends that address the creation and maintenance of gardens that are more sensitive to ecology and nature.
Xeriscaping – Natural Landscaping
Xeriscaping is a method of water-sensitive landscaping created by the Front Range Xeriscape™ Task Force of the Denver Water Department in the late 1970s. It is primarily associated with Ken Ball, a conservationist in the Denver Water Department who started the National Xeriscape™ Council in the 1980s in response to one of the worst droughts in Colorado history (that also affected Plains states, other Rocky Mountain states, and California).
Xeriscaping essentially refers to a landscaping that is specifically designed to hold up in drought conditions. This encompasses one or more of the following:
Landscape Services Market in the U.S.
• Gardens that are practical and aesthetically pleasing but require only minimal irrigation.
• Managing watering of plants by grouping together plants with comparable water needs.
• Landscape design and construction that reduces garden maintenance and water usage, in some cases as much as 25-50 percent.
• Incorporation of less formal, more relaxed design.
• Design using native plants.
Xeriscaping is expected to be one of the biggest landscape design trends over the rest of this decade. Most popular in the western U.S., by the early 1990s more than 40 states had embraced xeriscaping and some sources indicate that all 50 states use xeriscape applications. In addition, many municipal governments and/or utilities have adopted xeriscaping. Some (such as Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and Chandler AZ) offer tax incentives or rebates to those who convert to xeriscapes. Some garden centers offer discounts on plants native to their areas.
Nonresidential work is wide-ranging:
• Natural environments – wetlands, forests, rivers and streams, and former mining areas
• Recreational areas – from municipal parks and gardens and athletic fields to zoos and national parks
• Commercial and industrial space – from perimeters to “roofscapes”
• Retail use – malls and shopping centers
• Religious property, including cemeteries
• Educational environments – from public schools to university campuses
• Infrastructure – roads, dams (including removal), and wind farms
• Project management and assurance of compliance with laws, codes, and specifications