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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Monday, July 18, 2011

Water Features

Water is one of the most desirable elements in the garden and because of this it is the most important elements in the design.  When designing with water, it is important to think about its inherent characteristics: it runs downhill and collects in low spots.  Try to respect and design within these characteristics in mind.  For example, even the most well designed pool will look silly perched on the top of a hill in the middle of a garden.  It is also very important to consider the scale of the water feature in comparison to the scale of the space that it is placed in. 
               Water can be informal or informal.  This is decided upon based on the design of the garden.  A formal reflecting pool would not work in an informal landscape design for example.  When designing an informal pool look to nature and the surrounding local ponds.  Use the informality to inform your plant selection; use native water loving plants for the best results.  Formal pools have many more rules to follow because applying a strong rigid form to a loose, fluid element.  The formal pond should be set in a space that helps define it.  They tend to be free standing and set in the middle of a flat open space.  A formal pool can be many shapes including, rectangles, ellipses, as long as it’s a formal, well defined shape. 
               A pool tends to be the focus of the garden that it is a part of, because of this an important consideration is its appearance in the winter.  To look nice in all seasons a pool needs to have a refined proportions, clean lines, and well designed lines.  Plants can play into the winter landscape as well.  Ornamental grasses, and other plants should be chosen for their winter shape, form, and winter interest.  Making these important considerations will make your pool or water garden have plenty of year round interest.
               Streams and brooks bring movement, sound, and an opportunity to introduce naturalistic plantings to a landscape.  Streams also act as an axis in a garden, dividing spaces, and defining them.  A stream can cut a landscape in two or create and edge for the design.  A stream forces the garden design to form around it and with it.  Bringing informality or formality to the landscape can be accomplished by using a stream as well.  Fast moving water should be focused on, the banks should be treated simply.  Slower moving water can be treated with a seating area, and more elaborate planting areas. 
               Fountains are amazingly dynamic focal points.  Water in a fountain can be use as a gentle gurgle or in a huge, forceful jet.  The best fountains work within the context of the body of water that they are part of.  Elaborate displays of water work in simple spaces; where the plantings or the planning is complicated the water display should be simple and fade into the background.  When designing a fountain think about the visual effects:  How high should the jets rise?; How wide the should the basin be?; How many different levels should there be?; What angles should the jets be at?  These are always a good questions to consider.

Friday, July 8, 2011

LawnScapes' Landscape Lighting Basics

               Lighting is a very important element to consider when designing a garden or landscape.  There are two basic considerations when applying lighting: Safety, and enhancing aesthetic appeal of plants and architectural elements.  In more public landscape designs lighting a path or space with more (and brighter) lighting is necessary for safety, but too much lighting in the residential landscape will detract from its appeal.  In private garden I use lights to play with the effects of light and dark, adding mystery to the landscape.  When using lights in the landscape do not try to recreate the effect of daytime; play light against dark, use them to highlight trees and other elements.  Playing light against dark creates a sense of mystery about what is around the corner, the layout of the next space, allowing a person to experience the landscape in an easily digestible series of vignettes.  Good lighting will create a magical experience.
 Things I like to think about when designing lighting schemes:
·        Light gathering spaces with soft light to create a nice ambiance.
·        Think about the type of mood you want to create when designing the lighting for an area.
o   Lighting can be designed to be dimmed.
o   Lighting can be designed to be redirected.
·        Lighting fixtures come in all shapes and sizes.
o   Fixtures should be installed and matched carefully to the overall design.
·        On stairs, the lights can be built into the risers, into the railings, or into a wall next to the stairs.
o   Stairs must be lit because of safety concerns.
·        12”-18” tall fixtures, casting light onto the ground plane is the most important to safety.
o   Important not to shine lights into the pedestrian’s eyes.
o   Most of this type of lighting is placed along the division between the planting bed and the pathway, creating a sense of mystery. 
·        Ambient light is subtle and more appealing.
o   Avoid focused light unless you are highlighting specific elements.
o   Think about uplighting your house, trees, and sculptures.
·        Try using non-permanent lights such as tiki torches to create a nice, soft glow, for parties, and gatherings.
o   White lights in trees provide a nice effect all year long.
o   Think about using votive candles to provide instant ambience.
·        Try using white blooming annuals or perennials because they reflect the smallest amount of light.

Check out these websites to see multiple lighting options and fixtures:

Unique Lighting

Focus Industries

We use fixture from both of these companies extensively.

-Matt Bradley

Friday, July 1, 2011

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens allow you to bring the inside outside.  A kitchen can consist of anything from a grill and some counter space to a covered area with a wet bar, pizza oven, and cook top.  When designing an outdoor cooking area, I like to consider how many people will be using it, city ordinances, and (perhaps most importantly) how easily it can maintained. 
Design Considerations :
1.  Keeping it close:  Keeping it close to the house allows for easy transportation of materials between the house and the outdoor kitchen.
2. Location of Utilities:  Where are they and how far do they extend away from the house. 
3.  Work Triangle: Thinking about the spatial organization between the cooking area, food storage area, and clean up area.
4.  Space for guests:  How many people are you going to entertain?
5.  Circulation:  Do not allow major foot traffic to intersect the primary work areas.  The work aisle for the outdoor kitchen should be a minimum of 48”.
6.  Functional Areas of an Outdoor Kitchen:
·       Hot Zones: Grills, Cooktops, and Pizza Ovens
·       Cold Zones: Fridges, Freezers, Wine Chillers, and Kegerators
·       Wet Zones: Sinks and Ice Reserviors
·       Dry Zones: Storage, Prep Areas/Counters
7. Counter Space Recommendations:
·       Small Outdoor Kitchen: Grill, cooktop, sink, and storage adding up to about 10 Linear Feet.  36” of useable countertop and should be no less than 24” Deep.
·       Medium Outdoor Kitchen:  Grill, cooktop, sink, storage, and fridge adding up to about 13 Linear Feet.  48” of useable countertop is recommended and should be no less than 24” Deep.
·       Large Outdoor Kitchen:  All amenities (what can you imagine) and can total more than 20 Linear Feet.  At least of 156” of useable countertop is recommended.
8. Landing areas to left and right of stoves, sinks, and other elements should provide plenty of space.  This is a design faux pas that I see a lot in outdoor kitchen designs.

Things to consider including in your Outdoor Kitchen:
1. Pizza Oven
2.  BBQ Smoker
3. Sink
4.  Refrigerators
5.  Prep Space
6. Wine Cooler
7.  Kegerators
8.  Covering with a roof or an arbor
9.  Wood storage for the pizza oven
10.  Counter top material.