The Basics of Landscape Design

Why make a back-to-basics article on the principles of landscape design and landscape architecture? We know that most of our readers are well-versed in landscape architecture and landscape design (though we imagine there are some students among you, too).

Our reasoning is simple: By focusing on the fundamentals, we can illustrate how Lands Design improves workflow for the most essential elements of a landscape architect’s work.

There’s a lot to cover (the basics of our industry aren’t so basic at all), so let’s begin!

Site analysis

Site analysis is the first step of any landscape design project. Landscape architects must evaluate the topography, the type of soil, the existing vegetation, and the climate. Other artificial and natural features of the landscape must also be analyzed—buildings, hardscape features, bodies of water, and more.

Zoning the landscape a basic step in the design process
Zoning the landscape is a basic step in the design process. This zoning plan is designed with Lands Design in Rhino

Lands Design offers powerful site analysis tools. Our tool allows you to import terrains from satellite images or from existing files on the cloud. You can also plug in contours, elevation curves, and point clouds and create landscapes using those.

Our extensive database of plants allows you to incorporate existing vegetation into your site analysis file. You can begin to assess where the best views on a property are, how existing vegetation can be incorporated into your landscaping project, and more.

Topography tool in Lands Design, helps you to have a 3D model of the site with a few clicks! Fast and easy!
Terrain tools in Lands Design, help you to have a 3D model of the site easily. An opportunity to do a site analysis with the 3D model

Merging form and function

In landscape design, we talk a lot about aesthetics—but aesthetics should be born naturally from both the function of the space and its existing layout. “Form follows function” is an oft-cited principle, but the way we think of it has changed in the 21st century.

That’s particularly evident in landscape design, where one of the functions should almost always be to incorporate new features harmoniously with existing features in a way that highlights the unique qualities of a given piece of land.

Once you’ve created a file for your site analysis, Lands Design allows you to incorporate any number of hardscape and Softscape features into the design. Then, you can virtually walk along your walkways. Also, move through time to view seasonal changes and yearly plant growth. Finally, see how tree cover influences the built environment over time, and more!

A focus on sustainability

Another essential function in modern landscape design is sustainability. For many property owners, the draw of great landscape design has been financial—landscaping can increase your property value, after all.

While that remains true, there’s a new focus on creating sustainable landscapes. These landscapes may include tree cover that offers shade as passive cooling, water reclamation for irrigation, water treatment through constructed wetlands, and more.

One of the most common ways of improving sustainability is by using plants that are native to a given region and using xeriscaping principles to introduce soft-scaping features that don’t require irrigation. With over 8000 different plant species, Land Design allows you to incorporate sustainable soft-scaping features into your design. You can even filter plants by soil type, climate, and more, simplifying the work of finding the right plants for the job.

The basics, done better

We hope this article has illustrated how Lands Design can help you with some of the most basic principles of landscape design. It has a version for AutoCAD and another for Rhino. Therefore, you can import and export your designs in multiple formats.

Lands Design allows you to create in 2D and 3D—you can even show clients virtual tours of the landscape you’ve designed. Also, you can see it through vistual reality. From honing in on the basics to completing your final design, we trust you’ll find the software helps you do it all.

Christie Simon, Bulger Brothers