Mark Roemer Oakland image of a beautiful and functional landscape design.

Landscape Architectural Designs That Add Functionality

I, Mark Roemer Oakland, believe that the best landscape architecture designs help enrich the human experience by combining beauty with functionality. When most people think of landscape designs, they usually think it consists of organic elements such as lawns and hedges. However, functional landscape designs include important non-organic elements such as fences, stones, and paved areas too.

The incorporation of built elements is especially important in public spaces for improving functionality since the grading and ground material affect site planning, site installations, and usability.

Tips & Tricks

Here are a few tips you can follow to create functional landscape architectural designs:

1. Consider how the landscape design will affect user experience – When creating landscape architectural designs, it is important to consider how the space would be used by people. The primary objective should be to improve the visual appeal, ease of navigation, and comfort. It is a good idea to segment the requirements for hardscapes such as fences, paved areas, stones, and other hard-wearing materials, and softscapes such as lawns, trees, and other plant materials.

The existing site condition can also impact the final design of the project. For instance, you have to carefully consider how existing structures, climate, and features such as drainage, slopes, and utilities will affect the construction. That is why proper planning and organization are important.

2. Make use of strong lines to create impact – One of the easiest ways to guide how the users feel about a landscape and navigate through it is to make use of strong lines. For instance, horizontal lines are more appropriate for spas and other places that are intended for relaxation. Similarly, vertical lines are suitable in exterior landscapes that demand more interaction and a dynamic sense of interaction.

3. Create balance with symmetry – Creating balance and symmetry is crucial when designing landscapes since it helps to boost the aesthetic appeal of the property. In fact, these are integral elements in a functional landscape since poor symmetry can ruin the appeal of the property.

Generally, the best practice to create balance in a landscape property is to blend materials and forms. For instance, the focal points in certain areas should be tied with other features that help to unify the space. The goal is to ensure the design flows naturally and seamlessly to minimize unwanted distractions.

4. Experiment with scale – Experimenting with scale in a landscape can be exciting and one of the best ways to engineer the feeling of an area. However, when comparing the relationship with objects to improve visual appeal and drama, it is still necessary to maintain balance.

The best practice is to consider the total square footage of architectural components on the property, and the area that needs to be landscaped and enhance the design by incorporating a wide variety of materials and heights.

5. Use texture and color to create a strong emotional impact – Beautiful landscapes tingle your senses and evoke a range of emotions that compel you to visit the site frequently. It is only possible through the proper use of different textures and colors that create subtle psychological and emotional impacts.

For instance, natural earth colors including deep browns, blacks, grays, and greens pair well with grass lawns, garden soil, rock and concrete structures, and water features. But bright synthetic colors such as pinks, purples, reds, and yellows clash with the natural greenery.

In terms of texture, broad leaves often shimmer and rustle in the wind, and thus, they grab the most attention. Contrarily, trimmed compact shrubs with small leaves can look smooth from a distance.

6. Create harmony with consistency and repetition – Functional landscapes include careful planning that focuses on unity and cohesion to create harmony in the surrounding. This is essential to generate a sense of completeness that people can experience intuitively.

The key principles of creating harmony in a landscape include mixing different elements such as shapes, textures, and lines via repetition to create unity. For instance, it is recommended you feature attention-grabbing focal points such as unique tree species in the building entrances, leisure spaces, pathways, and other places of interest.

7. Understand when to use curved vs straight lines – You should carefully consider the use of curved and straight lines since they help to encourage movement and reinforce order. However, they are not suitable for every type of landscape setting or usage. Let us look at them in detail below:

  • Curved-line landscapes – Curved lines encourage unplanned exploration and wandering since they emphasize asymmetric compositions and natural forms. You can study the use of curved lines by observing traditional Japanese gardens with free-form natural landscapes.

    They are commonly featured around water elements to draw attention to ponds and fountains and reinforce natural water lines. They can also be used to create strong focal points that encourage radial movements.
  • Straight-line landscapes – Straight lines are appropriate in urban settings such as busy downtown environments where pedestrians and vehicles need to move as efficiently and quickly as possible.

    These complement the basic rectangular shapes of traditional office building structures as well. However, it is labor-intensive to maintain plant configurations that feature straight form. Plants require frequent pruning to maintain their intended forms.

8. Use form and shape to direct attention – The best way to direct attention in a landscape is to make use of different types of trees since they offer a flexible range of shapes and compositions.

For instance, you can use trees with high trunks to create canopies that provide shade for hammocks and benches. Column-shaped and conical trees help to direct attention upwards. And you can set trees and shrubs in a line to create barriers that help direct traffic and people,


I, Mark Roemer Oakland, suggest you always strive to enhance the quality of user experience when creating landscape architectural designs in order to make them functional. For instance, retail centers, plazas, transit stations, and college campuses should be able to accommodate both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. High-traffic urban locations will benefit from significant hardscape materials and designated areas for social interactions. And, natural greenspaces are more appropriate for parks, country clubs, and decorative courtyards.