Relating to the challenges

Designing landscapes involves similar, basic steps that are common with other creative productions. It involves an analysis of your site considerations and customer desires, along with your creative input, that stamps the design as your own. Being in the publishing business, I see many parallels with magazine design. In designing our magazine cover, for instance, we must consider the production requirements of the media (site analysis), the design elements that will entice you (the reader and customer) to open and read the magazine and the design elements that help differentiate our publication from the rest. Often the design is a subtle factor that you don't notice right away but which contributes to your overall feeling about and to the functionality of the landscape (or publication). Beyond the design are the working elements, such as the plants you've selected, water features and hardscapes (or, in the case of publications, editorial content, illustrations and photographs) that are more visible and to which your customers more directly relate. Although our editorial staff does not claim to be landscape designers, we can relate to the challenges you face. Considering the common ground we share, this issue focuses on design.

I mentioned water features as one of the working elements in your designs. Water features serve aesthetic as well as functional purposes. The sound of water movement as well as the visual impact of light playing on the water's surface create a calming effect on those nearby. But water also can serve functional purposes, such as with retention ponds and flood control. Scott Byron, president of Scott Byron & Co., an award-winning design/maintenance firm in Illinois, discusses how to design, install and maintain water features (page 14).

In addition to water features, you can further embellish the functional and aesthetic attributes of your grounds by including decorative walkways and patios. Although you can choose from many paving materials, have you considered concrete pavers? Their durability, availability, array of choices-in color, texture, shape and size-and ease of installation make them a good alternative to other paving materials. For step-by-step instructions on how to install concrete pavers, turn to page 41.Whether you insta ll concrete pavers, water features or plants on your grounds, you need a plan and detailed specifications. Not long ago, designers relied primarily on hand-drafting to produce designs on paper. That situation has changed with the advent of computer-aided design (CAD). CAD enables accurate scaling, the option of design overlays and quick implementation of design changes. As a result, hand-drafting is making way for CAD. George Crosby, associate professor of plant science at the State University of New York, writes about the benefits of CAD (page 33). Included is a chart detailing the characteristics of many landscape-design software packages on the market today.

Many of the landscape-design packages offer irrigation-design features that enable you to add irrigation systems to new or existing sites. Several programs also include features for performing the hydraulic calculations you'll need when creating your irrigation-system designs. George Cole, with Irritrol Systems, discusses these calculations in "Plan for irrigation expansions" (page 20).

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