Design Formation Part 1: Finding the Function

Dual Functions

A good landscape design melds form with function. What this means, is that a good plan is not only pretty, it also serves a purpose. Nor does it simply serve a purpose, it is also beautiful. If you are looking to create a master plan for your backyard, you are in the right place to begin. Whether you plan to work with a professional designer, or plan to do it yourself, this document will help you start in the right direction and give good information to your designer.

Dual Functions
Walls can dual-function as a place to sit and retain soil.

First, we start with function. This is our ultimate goal. If the space doesn’t function well, then it is useless. If it does its required functions, then we have achieved our purpose and the time, energy, and resources have been well used.

Butterfly on Butterflybush
Butterflies on Butterflybush

What are the required functions for your yard? This is the first question. Make a list of everything you want to achieve. Some on my list are:

• Attract more birds.
• Attract dragonflies.
• Maintain a space to play with children.
• Space for children to interact with nature and explore.
• Grow our own fruits and vegetables.
• Get outside more.
• Trial new flowers and shrubs.
• Entertain/feed family and small groups of guests
• Include the sound of water.
• Screen the neighbor’s shed.

A design should be functional.
A design should be functional.

As a designer, my list may look different from your list. It is important to me to be outside and checking on each of my plants. Other people may not share my enthusiasm and want something a little more permanent and low maintenance. Great! Make a note of that on your list! Each person has a unique list of desires. It is good to include all of the family in this discussion. Right now we are brainstorming, so no idea is too wild to make it on the list.

Answering this first question will put you far ahead of most in the planning phase. The next step is to narrow the list to a reasonable number of ideas. Order them from most important to least important or categorize them as want or need. Then comes the fun part! Use this list as the guidelines for creating your design. More tips on transforming your list into a design will come next week! Go to Part 2.


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