Why Design Matters

MORRIS SKETCHkate wilsonby Kate Wilson

Some believe that your yard is a reflection of yourself. And I do like the metaphor…our landscapes are always changing, not just with the seasons but slowly growing and maturing with time. And hopefully we are too. You can tell a lot about someone from looking at their yard. If it’s well played in or the lawn meticulously cared for or sometimes no lawn at all! All of these different actions speak to the owner’s character. But what makes having a landscape design worth it?

  • A landscape designer will ensure that each plant is in its happiest place.
  • A landscape designer will bring clarity to your vision’s scope, schedule, and budget.
  • A landscape designer will formalize your various ideas into a focused, buildable design.

Hilliard Residence

Right plant in the right place. Many of us have heard this before and if you haven’t I’m glad to introduce you to the saying, because it’s a biggie. For those of you who already possess a good knowledge of different types of plant material and their specific needs, this probably doesn’t apply to you (but the other reasons definitely do! Feel free to skip down). Knowing different plant material and their needs beyond sun or shade is important for long-term success of any landscape. Some like it hot, some like it dry and some like it wet. And some plants don’t give a hoot and can take sun, shade dry soil, wet soil, heavy soil or loamy– it doesn’t matter to them and those are what we call gems. Gems, because not all plants can tolerate any and all conditions. In fact very few can, so it’s best to know which plants can tolerate what conditions. Having thriving plants will make it all last.

CAMERON front landscape drawing


It’s more than just curb appeal. Although that is a big part of it. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, novice or depending on the designer to know all the plant material, getting help figuring out your priorities applies to everyone. A landscape designer not only probes for how you currently use your landscape, but plans for how you would like to use your landscape. Whether you want to make it less maintenance, you’re looking to spend more time gardening, or you want a place for your family to relax and play, a designer can help you figure out your objectives, values and concerns AND THEN make it all work. Having a literal plan on paper will help you to achieve your priorities. This is also the moment when budget is an important topic. No matter what your budget may be, a creative designer will layout the steps necessary to achieve your goals.



Beyond function and form.  It’s not only a plan of where you should plant certain plants, how-to of necessary steps to build your landscape dreams, but also connects all your concepts into a buildable design. They’ll bring a sense of scope and cohesiveness to all your rad ideas and bring them into a reality. AND make it all look fabulous. This is where I could write a book on the theories of landscape design. But some really good books already exist on this very topic, so I’ll spare you, for now. But this is the moment when you realize that hiring a designer will create clear steps for achieving your landscape dreams victoriously. What if you don’t have a vision and just want things to look nice (aka have curb appeal)? That’s totally cool, designers can lend a vision to a project, but only when needed.

For those interested in hiring a designer from Oakland Nursery, please call our design office at 614.268.3834

For those interested in digging deeper into landscape theory here are some good reads:

Landscape Design: A cultural and architectural history. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers. Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers.2001.

The Melting Pot. Susan Davis Price. The American Gardener, March/April 1998.

Modern Landscape Architecture: A critical review. Marc Treib. The Mit Press. 1993.

Siftings. Jen Jenson. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1990. (reprint of the 1939 publication)

And I just can’t help myself….

Evolution of the Lawn. Wesley Greene. Magnolia, Fall 2005 Vol.XX, No.2 – if you can’t find it, I’ll be happy to make you a copy. For real.

Happy Gardening!!

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