Landscaping is the art of creating an outdoor living space that bridges between a residential or commercial architectural setting--a building--and the world beyond its borders, whether that's another building or a natural or rural environment. Like other arts, such as painting, writing, or music, landscape design styles change over time. Modern landscaping ideas build on the past but reflect current social and cultural trends as well.
Environmental consciousness is a cultural and economic trend in every field, so it is no wonder that even landscaping is going green. The Ecological Landscaping Association was founded in 1992 to promote more environmentally sound methods of residential, commercial and community landscaping techniques including water and energy conservation, promotion of native plants, and chemical pesticide and fertilizer reduction. Their modern landscape ideas include reducing the size of turf lawns and replacing them with an edible landscape or low-maintenance groundcover to minimize fuel expenditure and air pollution from mowing; using permeable materials for driveway, walk and parking areas to reduce run-off and improve groundwater recharge; and planting with wildlife habitat creation in mind.
Garden as Sculpture
James Rose (1913-1991) was the key figure in the evolution of modern garden design, according to Dean Cardasis, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. At his own residence in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and in the hundreds of gardens he designed for clients, Rose described his modern landscaping ideas as a "communion with the sky," with each garden a living sculpture to be walked through while contained within the arc of blue overhead. Rose's landscape designs emphasized functionality through an open, flowing form, in which one feature, such as a fountain, flowed seamlessly into another area such as paths with chairs near perennial beds, rather than having the garden divided into distinct "rooms" with specific uses assigned to them. The modern, living sculpture approach also blended indoors and outdoors with open patio spaces creating overlaps between the home and garden environments, and melded the natural landscape with the landscape of human intervention.
Dr. William C. Welch, writing for the Texas A&M Extension, says cottage gardens--small, usually artfully fenced beds of mixed perennial and annual flowers, herbs, ornamental edibles and whatever else the gardener fancies--reflect one of the best characteristics of American heritage: individuality. No two cottage gardens are alike, writes Welch, nor should they be. A cottage garden of mixed textures, colors and plant genres, flanking the front stoop of a condominium or tract house, is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous foundation shrubs sheared into tidy, dull box shapes. Welch suggests that gardeners take the time to study their communities to see which flowering plants thrive and bloom at different times of the year, then select among them for the shapes, colors and textures they find most attractive to their own tastes.