Landscaping has become a popular phenomenon these days. Many commercial establishments such as restaurants and shopping malls utilize a well-defined landscape to attract customers. Households with spacious front and backyard establish landscapes to beautify their homes. Even theme parks, memorial parks, and golf courses utilize plants in their landscapes to make their surroundings aesthetically tasteful.
Landscaping is a general term that refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of a land. It is the art and science of designing and managing the outdoor space to create an environment that is highly suitable to the biological and physiological well-being of man. As a science, landscaping involves technical knowledge for the selection, arrangement, and growing of plants. As an art, it requires skills for sculpturing the biological and nonbiological materials into a single and beautiful living ecosystem.
Primarily, the main purpose of landscaping is to achieve beauty, privacy, and pleasure with ornamental plants as its main component. Trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, and herbaceous perennials are utilized in a creative manner to beautify an outdoor space.
Ornamentals for functionality
Landscaping is not limited to achieve beauty alone. The ornamental plants are the key elements used in landscaping and impart other functions that we usually not notice.
Owing to the beauty they bring, plants spare an element of satisfaction, relaxation, and delight to human beings. A simple arrangement of plants can alter the surrounding and render it more beautiful because of its inherent aesthetic and architectural qualities. But such designed environments are not just pretty. The plants in the landscape also add functionality by modulating temperature, abating noise, reducing glare, and increasing privacy and security. In this manner, a beautiful surrounding imparts a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility to man.
How to landscape with ornamentals
Landscaping is not as simple as it seems. Since landscaping is also a field of science, it involves processes that must be followed and a group of experts to perform the task.
There are three phases in landscaping before anyone can achieve a beautifully landscaped surrounding:
1. Landscape design involves the complete planning, designing, and drawing of an envisioned concept for a certain design. A licensed landscape architect and a landscape designer with appropriate training perform this task. As the name implies, a landscape architect is an architect of the landscape bringing together the natural balance the needs of the people and technology. A landscape designer is an individual who designs the work of the landscape architect. The landscape designer is familiar with the basic design principles, plant cultural requirements, and basic landscape construction methods. The conceptualization of a design usually depends on a certain theme or mood, or sometimes culture. The Zen garden, for example, is a Japanese-inspired landscape and is a popular concept used in landscaping nowadays. The main elements of a Zen Garden are rocks and sand, with the sea which is embodied by sand. Plants are minimally used in a Zen Garden while embellishments are used mostly to symbolize something.
2. After the materialization of the blueprint of the design is the implementation. Landscape design implementation is the development or creation of the landscape. In this stage, the preparation of the site, planting of the selected ornamentals, installation of hardscapes, and construction of the landscape as a whole is being worked out. A landscape horticulturist or an engineer is in charge in this phase. A desired plant cannot be simply picked up and included in a landscape. Plants have their own cultural requirements that support their growth and survival. The growth, habit, water, sunlight, and nutrient requirements are some of the few things considered in selecting plants to be included in the landscape. For example, Sansevieras, Aglaonemas, Dieffenbachia,s and Philodendrons could thrive better under the shade. On the other hand, San Francisco, Bougainvilleas, and Calachuchi prefer being planted under the sun where they can grow better.
3. After the plants have established and developed, landscape maintenance is needed to maintain aesthetic value of the envisioned design. Landscape maintenance is the art of keeping a landscape healthy, safe and attractive with the use of various tools, pices of equipment, supplies, and skills. This includes the watering of plants, fertilization, pruning, pest and disease management, mulching, and edging. A poorly maintained landscape will do little to stimulate public belief in their value or necessity. Poor maintenance practices, even for a short period, can destroy much of the beauty of the landscaped area.
Landscaping as an industry
According to Dr. Leonido Naranja, a landscape horticulturist and professor from the Crop Science Cluster of the College of Agriculture at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, landscaping has a very promising future in the country.
“With the mushrooming of subdivisions, golf courses, malls, theme parks, and other commercial areas, there will always be a demand for the services of those in the landscaping business and to our landscaping graduates as well,” Dr. Naranja said.
Landscaping as an industry involves a lot of sectors: stakeholders, real estate developers, landscape professionals, agriculturists, nursery owners, academic institutions, and government offices. Though landscaping is just a newly recognized industry, it has already provided opportunities for business and livelihood for the sectors involved in it.
However, as a budding industry, there are also problems encountered in landscaping. In the case of the designers, meeting the required volume of a certain plant species is their primary problem. In most instances, nursery owners fail to meet the volume of plant species specified in the landscape design that sometimes leads in changing the design.
Meanwhile, the increasing cost of production of planting materials such as planting media, fertilizer, and containers is the primary dilemma of nursery owners and plant growers. Rice hull for example, is the common planting medium used by nursery owners in Bulacan which can be availed of at a low price and sometimes even for free. After the discovery of rice hull as a potential source of fuel, the demand for it has increased along with the increase of its market price.
For the small-scale nursery owners, finding a market for their plants is their biggest concern. Since landscape designs usually require a large volume of plants, small-scale nurseries are often overlooked as possible sources of plants because they cannot satisfy the required plant volume. Dr. Naranja mentioned that in this regard, small nursery owners can organize and team up to meet the plant requirements of landscape contractors.
Much still remains to be done for the improvement of landscaping activities and as an industry as a whole. Dr. Naranja recognized the need for continuous research and development (R&D) of technology for ornamentals. He mentioned that R&D efforts can be focused on tree surgery, pruning, postharvest handling of ornamentals and the improvement and maintenance systems and practices for the ornamental and landscaping industry to thrive.
In the case of landscape design, the development of new trends that would showcase Filipino culture in the landscape is encouraged. An attempt to create a “Filipino Garden” using plants and embellishments that can be associated with the Filipino culture such as the nipa hut is being worked out.
Another undertaking, which is the advancement of edible landscaping, is being promoted to a larger extent. Edible landscaping is the utilization of food-producing plants in the constructed landscape, principally the residential landscape. It combines fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs in replacement of the traditional ornamental design. Landscaping with edibles is being promoted most especially in urban areas to contribute to sustainability. This concept is already being adopted by real estate developers where it is thought as something new and innovative as it provides food and imparts beauty at the same time. end
* Bautista, O.K., Espino, R.R.C., Sangalang, J.B. and H.L. Valmayor. 1994. Introduction to Tropical Horticulture. 2nd edition. UPLB: SEAMEO-SEARCA.
* Carpenter, P., Lamphear, F., and T. Walker. 1975. Plants in the Landscape. San Franciso: Freeman and Co.
* Hannebaum, L.G. 1998. Landscape Operations Management, Methods and Materials. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
* Naranja, L.R. 2004. Lecture Notes in Urban Horticulture. 2nd semester, University of the Philippines Los Baños.
* Interview with Dr. Leonido R. Naranja, April 1, 2007.
Story and Photos by Ellaine Grace L. Nagpala, “Landscaping” Bar Digest, January-March 2007, Volume 9 Issue No. 1
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