Landscaping can be defined as the decoration of a tract of land with plants and other garden materials so as to produce a picturesque and naturalistic effect in a limited space. Landscaping in India has an age-old tradition of gardening and orchard management with impressive landscapes. Mahabharata talks about palaces that are a landscaping marvel.
Even in the Mughal period the tradition of landscaping continued. This is visible at the Nishat and Shalimar Garden in Srinagar and the famous Taj Mahal Garden in Agra. The British followed it up in instances like the Mughal Garden inside the President’s House or gardens elsewhere like the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone. The trend of gardening continued even after the independence. Today landscaping has got the industry status with a lot of activities taking place over the last few years. The rapid urbanization and industrialization leads to the coming up with new dimension to the art of landscaping. Moreover, the people are health conscious and desire to live in a healthy and green environment. Thus in aesthetic and utility point of view it can be said that landscaping was once the privilege of the elite and today it is the need of all.
Starting from our puranas to till today many trends in the gardening has evolved and even in the present time many advances and modern concepts in the field of landscaping are seen. It may be the past, present or future but in all the cases the basic principles of gardening will remain the same.
Basic principles of landscape gardening
The following are the basic principles to be followed while establishing a landscape garden.
It is the primary analysis of a site. A good designer should design the landscape in the available space. The natural topography should be retained. Fencing, should be such that it looks natural as far as practicable and it should not obstruct any natural view. For example, if there is natural forest scenery or a hillock just outside the boundary, it should be incorporated in the garden design in a thoughtful manner so that it appears to be a part of the garden.
This is an imaginary line in any garden around which the garden is created striking a balance. In a formal garden, the central line is the axis. At the end of an axis, generally there will be a centre of attraction, although other architectural features such as bird-bath or sundial can also be erected at about the midpoint.
It is the centre of attraction of every garden which is generally an architectural feature focused as a point of interest such as statue, fountain, rockery etc. It is also called as accent or emphasis.
The use of single plant species in large numbers in one place is done to have mass effect. One should see that such mass arrangements do not become monotonous; the sizes of masses should be varied.
Unity in a garden is very important and will improve the artistic look of the garden. Unity has to be achieved from various angles. First, the unity of style, feeling, and function between the building and the garden has to be achieved. Secondly, the different components of the gardens should merge harmoniously with each other. The aim is to create an overall impression of the garden rather than blowing up some special features. Lastly, it is of prime importance to achieve harmony between the landscape outside and the garden.
The aim of every garden design should be such that the garden should appear larger than its actual size. One way of achieving this is to keep vast open spaces, preferably under lawn and restrict the plantings in the periphery, normally avoiding any planting in the centre. But if any planting has to be done in the centre the choice should be a tree which branches at a higher level on the trunk (or the lower branches are removed), and not a bushy shrub. Such planting will not obstruct the view or make the garden appear smaller than its size. Another suggestion to create the illusion of more space in a large public garden is to alternate large lawns followed by a group of trees. A large open space planted haphazardly all over with trees looks smaller than its size. The techniques of creating an illusion of more space are also referred to as forced Perspective.
In a landscape garden, there should not be any hard and fast divisional lines. However, there is the necessity of dividing or rather screening a compost pit or a Maliís quarter or a vegetable garden from the rest of the garden. In fact areas under lawn, gravel, stone or cement path, and shrubbery border have their natural divisional lines from its immediate neighbour though these are not discreet. The divisional lines should be artistic with gentle curves and these should also be useful. Above all these lines should harmonize with one another.
Proportion and Scale
Proportion in a garden may be defined as a definite relationship between different elements. For example, a rectangle having a ratio of 5:8 is considered to be of pleasing proportion. As this ratio comes down the form looks neither a square nor a rectangle and the design becomes undesirable. There is no set rule with respect to scale and proportion in a garden, ultimately the design should look pleasant. It is better to have an adhoc design first and then try it out on the actual spot. If the design looks appealing as well as pleasing, it is implemented. When a shrubbery border has to be planted the outer design is marked by arranging a rubber hose or thick wet rope in different designs on the spot and the one, which looks best, is adopted. Judgment of scale and proportion fully depends on the individual experience and the thorough knowledge of plants.
The surface character of a garden unit is referred to as texture. The texture of the ground, the leaves of a tree or shrub will all determine the overall effect of the garden. Generally, the texture is of three types’ viz., fine, medium and course. The texture of plant depends on its leaf size, arrangement of branches and compactness of canopy. Moreover, the texture can also be classified as rough and smooth based on the appearance. “A.gulmohar is a fine textured tree” when in full leaf, whereas Spathodea companulata is a coarse textured tree. The placement of all these various textures with harmony and contrast has to be achieved to get the ultimate desirable effect.
Light and Time
In a garden the time factor is very important. The garden design should be planned in such a way that in the afternoon it is possible to sit in a shaded place from where the best part of the garden should be visible. The growth habits of the plants play a vital role in choosing the right place for them in the garden and according the layout has to be planned. The seasonal movement of the sun and where the shade and light are likely to fall during different parts of season should be taken into account. There should be the visualization of the plants and trees planted at present over a period of time.