(Photo | Courtesy of HARPER HOUF PETERSON RIGHELLIS INC.)
As much as we all would like to think that the current craze of creating sustainable natural landscapes is a new idea, the reality is – it is not. While the Genesis of the concept dates much further back in history, as recently as 1969, a landscape architect named Ian McHarg published Design with Nature, a step-by-step instruction manual on land development stressing how to utilize natural land processes in the pursuit of designing ‘with’ the land rather than ‘on’ the land.
Short answer – designers need to recognize the intrinsic patterns and physical characteristics of the unbuilt environment .
On a smaller scale, McHarg was also interested in garden design and believed that homes should be planned and designed with private garden spaces promoting an ecological view. This requires the designer to become more familiar with the project site by understanding its’ soil, plants, solar orientation and, drainage.
McHarg’s book was the first work of its kind ‘to define the problems of modern development and present a process prescribing compatible solutions.’ (Frederick Steiner) Soap box aside, this very simple tenet is the basis of all good land design.
Closer to home, good design coupled with sustainable practices can also save you money. According to the EPA, 30 – 60 percent of urban area fresh water is used for landscape irrigation purposes and sadly, this problem is often exacerbated by poor landscape and irrigation design.
So, what should we do?
We need to continue to better understand central Oregon’s special microclimate and rightly so, incorporate drought resistant landscaping techniques. More importantly, we need to understand that drought resistant landscaping is more than rocks, fescue and sagebrush. Landscaping in central Oregon can be invigorating and made more interesting by utilizing a wide variety of construction materials and plant species which are drought tolerant to the area, practical and visually pleasing.
Planning and design are critical to assuring that your landscape is a reflection of your spirit. Your garden should invoke emotion and be useable space. Gardens and outdoor spaces are meant to be lived-in and enjoyed. Hire a Landscape Architect – don’t settle for anything less.
David Olsen, RLA | Development Manager
HARPER HOUF PETERSON RIGHELLIS INC.
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250 NW Franklin Avenue Suite 404 | Bend, OR | 97703