Important Landscaping Information


What Knowledge Does A Landscaper Apply? Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at some of the styles that inspire Landscape Designers to create wonderful outdoor living spaces.

In Part 2 we would like to touch on the current style trends that we see today. Due to the fact that many a yard has reduced significantly in size and that the Urban lifestyle has become one of lock-up-and-go, gardens have no choice but to follow suit.

We call this style the modern minimalistic style where hard landscaping plays a very important role and where asymmetrical designs are used more often than not. Designing small spaces tends to offer many challenges to the designer in that a feeling of space must often be created hence the fact that going up is often the only solution. These designs are formal in nature but balance is achieved in various ways.

On the other end of the scale we have the deconstructivist style, which is completely opposite from formal. Colour not pattern and rhythm is the binding element here.

Lets look at some pictures:

Modern Living

Modern Living

The Blue colour used for the Pergola is a reflection of the blue sky. In small spaces a good idea is also to paint the walls blue. This will make the space seem bigger since the wall will connect with the blue sky.

The walls in small spaces should be incorporated 100% into the design. Just like inside the house where walls are used to hang paintings or even carpets, so should the walls in the garden – but especially small gardens – be decorated. In this garden a very natural effect is achieved with the timber finish.

The beds are raised and this creates a sense of space and provides additional overflow seating. The floor finish has been kept natural with pebble inlays and a screed in the middle – low maintenance is the key here.

Just to offset the strong symmetrical design sleepers have been placed diagonally in the lawn. This creates a strong impact and links up with the wood finish on the wall.

What Knowledge Does A Landscaper Apply? Part 1

As Landscape designers we apply a number of key principles that allows us to come up with a concept and design that meets the Customers requirements and budget for example:

Landscape Style: Landscape style is something that has come a long way and can be:


Formal Theme

Formal Theme

Very symmetrical design where all elements are repeated and balanced to create the formality. Formal as a style does not have to have all the clipped hedges as long as the balance in the design is a symmetrical balance.Notice in this picture how the formal is balanced with informal for the boundary planting.

Focal points and different rooms in the garden is key elements of this design and I would say control and neatness would be key personality traits of the garden owner.

I personally like this style and have applied it many times with great success. One thing to consider however is that these gardens do not happen overnight and patience is required with belief in the vision that the Landscape Designer has for the end picture.

As a final note: If the property is big it is a good idea to start formal around the house and then let the design become more informal the further you move away from the house.


Formal with Informal:

Formal with Informal Landscaping

Formal with Informal Landscaping

This is often the most practical and for me the prettiest formal. The texture change that is achieved through the use of formal hedges or in this case clipped trees and the informal feel of the planting in between is what makes this style very attractive.

Again symmetry is the main driver of the pattern for the designer.

This style almost start leaning towards a country feel and again the two can be combined successfully on bigger sites.

I would like to mention something about Positive and Negative space at this stage:

Positive would be all the bed plants that you see in this picture and Negative would be the gravel paths and Lawns. It is fundamental that the one does not overpower the other hence the fact that we more often than not reduce the amount of Lawn in most gardens.

In this picture a nice balance is achieved.



Country Style

Country Style

This style is relaxed with drifts of plants creating a meadow feel.

This is the fairy tale story of garden styles and one gets the feeling that Alice can be walking around here.

The country garden still needs to be planned very carefully and seasonal changes should be incorporated in the plant selection to ensure that year round interest is achieved.

In the highveld where we have cold winters grasslands are very prominent. One can achieve a country feel using our Indigenous grasses with other Indigenous plants in between to great affect in Johannesburg.

The path in this picture tells us something about this style. We most often use Bark Chips on these paths to create the same affect. The path can also just be left natural since the birds will love this.


Naturalistic Style:

Naturalistic LandscapeNaturalistic Landscape

Normally seen on big properties where the scale allows for vast expanses of Informal planting. This style is informal and from a design perspective is normally a adaptation of the current landscape. In other words small alterations normally achieves the desired affect and the landscape on a whole is left unaltered. We apply ecological principles to these gardens and will only introduce plants that fits into the biozone of the area.


Mediterranean, Tropical and Oriental:



The Pictures are self explanatory. What is important about these styles is that they originated in climates and areas where they existed easily and the impact on the environment was minimal due to availability of materials.

Mediterranean Style

Mediterranean Style

The lesson here is that we should not attempt to force fit something into a Climate where the effort outweighs the reward.

Oriental Style

Oriental Style

This said there are many plants and micro climates in Johannesburg that will support these styles and give an authentic feel to the design.



Chelsea Flower Show Garden Comments

The Winning Garden at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show, The Daily Telegraph Garden, by Swedish landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell.

Create a Landscape Comments:

Chelsea 2009 Winning Garden

The Contemporary modern designs are a winning combination:

This is the modern formal where plants are only one of the elements that makes this garden a success.

We have height both in the form of a structure and plants but neither steels attention from one another. The formal trees wrap the design and draws the attention into the landscape.

The floor gives texture changes by both using hard landscaping and soft landscaping. The texture change from the water (rippling) to the grases (wavy) to the formal hedge (structure) has been done very well and highlights the importance of texture changes for both the Hard and Soft Landscaping Elements.

The granite in the water feature ads debth and dimension to the feature by casting shadows in the water.  These gardens take a bit longer to implement and are a bit more pricy due to the amount of Hard Landscaping but offer maintenance advantages.

Why Use A Landscape Designer?



A qualified Exterior Designer would have received excessive training both in plants but more importantly in design principles. These are applied by the Landscaper to create living spaces outside with the main goal always being creating a garden that links to the Architectural feel of the house and extend the rooms inside to rooms outside.

We provide the customer with a detailed plan (so that the customer knows what to expect) of the intended development so that there are no surprises later on. I like to draw similarities between a garden design and a painting, both must be seen as holistic complete entities and therefore a design can never only be one area of the garden since this will not produce a holistic complete picture.

Would you consider building a new house without a plan? I am sure some people do but then the outcome will never be known before hand and the expectation might not be met by the reality. However if you have a plan it opens many new doors like: Costing, Finishes, Overall Feel, Style and last but not least excitement. A Landscape Designer plan will achieve the same result and allow the garden owner to understand and see the end product that the designer intends to implement.

How much will it cost?

Our portfolio’s range from R3000.00 to R12000.00, it all depends on the site size and the site complexity (slope, current plants available ext)

Sometimes our customers stop at this point because now they have something they can work with and over time they can implement the design themselves – Most customers however don’t and prefer to use a qualified Landscaper to assist with the implementation.


Some exterior designers only do designs and then work alongside a Landscaper that implements these. The trend nowadays however is to have design and implementation experts under the same roof so that it becomes a one stop shop for the Customer. The Portfolio therefore typically will include a costing breakdown for the implementation. This allows the customer to do an in depth study of the charges so that he can negotiate with the Landscaper should he feel that certain items are too expensive based on market prices.

An important note to make is that nowadays gardens have a great deal of Hard Landscaping (Brickwork ext) involved and most Landscape designs will include this. Qualified landscapers know this and will have the experts that can implement the designs, sometimes not in house (a pool structure for example) but with trained specialists in the market. The Landscaper does however support the customer in this process and will include any external quotes in the portfolio as part of the costing process.

The aim at the end of the day is to take the hassle away from the Customer and do the groundwork for the customer. Our main goal here is always to save money for our clients.

How much will it cost?

What I can say is the following – In the house you can spend either a great deal or little money on a Dining Room table. Depending on your style you might prefer a Solid Teak dining room table while the neighbour across the street prefers Pine. Both achieves the same result (You can sit down and eat) but the Teak will far more expensive than the Pine.

The key is the design and the pattern, how we colour it in is a matter of budget and taste. We can supply various post from various suppliers and the price ranges vary. If budget is a constraint ten we can often achieve the same goal (sit down) in various different ways.

So the answer is – What is your Budget!!! (a question every Landscape Designer will ask you at the first consultation). If you tell your landscaper that you do not have a budget he will typically look at your home and the finishes that you selected their and apply the same thinking in your garden. A point to note however is that Gardens are not cheap (a visit to your local Nursery will prove this point) but will always ad more value to your home than it costs.

A good benchmark to determine budget should be the estimated value of your home. Take a range between 5 – 10% of your home value and expect to spend that on your garden.



Budget for the garden up front when you are building and involve the Landscaper from the start in order to avoid incorrect positioning of your pool and Lapa (These are normally there when we arrive and can create design challenges)


Don’t walk into the Nursery and start buying plants for a bare patch, 9 times out of 10 that patch will be bare again same time same place next year. Contact a Landscaper and ask him for advice. Some landscapers will be glad to assist and will charge you a consulting fee that will be far less than replacing plants every year.