Te Kura Horticulture
Home
Horticulture Home
Course Information
Course Information
Horticulture 1000
HT1081 - Landscaping - Soft landscaping
Environmental factors Hard landscaping
4

Soft landscaping

Plants in the landscape

There are thousands of different plants used to improve landscapes. Each will be chosen for its particular features and how it will fit into the existing environment.

Plants are used to achieve particular effects. Some plants can achieve more than one effect at the same time.

Here are some examples.

Specimen plants

A specimen evergreen Grevillea.
A specimen evergreen Grevillea.

These have an attractive form and are grown by themselves, often for dramatic effect. Examples are young lancewoods, cabbage trees, maples, conifers and flowering cherries.

Shade trees

This mature copper beech tree provides summer shade but will let light in to ground level during the winter months after it has lost its leaves.
This mature copper beech tree provides summer shade but will let light in to ground level during the winter months after it has lost its leaves.

These are often deciduous trees that can be used to shade a living area in summer. They lose their leaves in winter, so let the sunlight through. The changing leaf colours in autumn provide visual interest, for example oak, ash and maple.

Evergreen shrubs

This garden is planted with conifers of different shapes and colours for visual interest.
This garden is planted with conifers of different shapes and colours for visual interest.

Evergreens such as conifers, flax and cotoneaster provide year round colour for good background effect and contrast. They often have coloured or variegated leaves, flower at some stage or produce dramatic berries. They don’t need much care.

Hedge plants

These provide a barrier for privacy, to separate properties, to screen out unpleasant views and to cut down noise especially from traffic and for wind protection. Hedges can be a mix of plants or all the same. Photinia, conifers and coprosma are common hedge plants.

Flowering shrubs and climbers

The rose softens the hard features of the wall and provides scent. It is flowering in early summer.
The rose softens the hard features of the wall and provides scent. It is flowering in early summer.

These are used for their flower colour and scent. They often flower over several months. With careful planning you can provide year-round colour in the garden. Camellias, roses and rhododendrons are often used in landscaping to provide scent and colour.

Annual plants, herbaceous perennials and bulbs

Cheerful annual cosmos flowering in late summer.
Cheerful annual cosmos flowering in later summer.

The flowers of these plants provide vibrant colour for gardens and borders usually for a short time.

Different plants flower in different seasons giving all year interest, colour and scent in the garden.

Selecting plants

Once you have worked out what effects and uses you need from the plants you can then choose individual plants for an area. Consider these factors:

  • the garden style such as a cottage garden, Japanese garden, New Zealand native plants only and so on
  • type of plant growth habit needed, for example whether it’s a ground cover, annual, shrub, tree
  • how high it is finally going to grow
  • the shape or look you want
  • the colour that comes from the leaves, flowers, fruit and bark – use colour for unity or contrast
  • texture to improve the interest of a planted area: Leaves can be glossy, smooth, feathery, furry or spiky
  • rate of growth
  • the climate it thrives in, whether it likes hot, cold, shade, full sun, moist or dry conditions
  • the soil conditions it likes: pH, drainage, nutrition
  • how it blends in or complements other plants
  • its attractiveness at different times of the year.

When choosing plants for a garden it’s a good idea to look around at what plants are growing well in the surrounding area. Garden and plant books can be used for identification and to find other appropriate plants.

How plants are grouped together

Plants are grouped so they look good together and complement the surrounding buildings and landscape.

Complete Activity 4A in your workbook

Key points   Key points

Environmental factors that need to be considered when landscaping a site include:

  • Soft landscaping is made up of plants.
  • Plants are used to produce an effect.
  • Plants can be used for interest, colour, scent, effect, shade, screening, separating properties, privacy, cutting down noise and wind protection, or food crops.
  • Plants are selected for their type, final height, shape, colour, texture, rate of growth, attractiveness, the climate and soil condition they like and how they blend in with the rest of the plants.

What's next?

Go to: 5 Hard landscaping.

Environmental factors Hard landscaping