Landscape Design

By: Melissa Netzer – Landscape Designer – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

I have often thought that designing a landscape is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The goal is to create a finished picture that looks good and makes sense, by carefully fitting together all of the pieces provided. This is done ideally on a sturdy table, so small bumps don’t send the carefully crafted picture in all directions!

When doing an actual jigsaw puzzle, one has the advantage of seeing what the picture is supposed to turn out like. It’s on the top of the box. There is one right way for the pieces to be arranged and the person or people doing the puzzle can refer back to the top of the box for clues on how to fit them together. 

In landscape design it’s a bit trickier. First, instead of a picture on the top of a box, the finished product is an elusive and sometimes sketchy vision in the mind of a client. At the initial design appointment with a new client, the designer must ask questions and discuss ideas to come up with clues as to what the customer would like. After the wants, needs, and style of the customer, or their “final picture”, is defined, the designer starts to collect the “pieces” needed to create this vision.

The first pieces that are needed are the physical characteristics of the site. They define your parameters, so to speak. These are the existing facts about the site that have to be worked with. How big is the site? Where do the house, garage, outbuildings, driveway, sidewalk, etc. sit? Are there setbacks or right-of-ways that need to be considered? Where and in what condition are the existing trees, shrubs, walls, walks? Do they want to keep them all? What is the existing grade? If the site is along a river or lake, are there erosion or permitting issues? And so on. Measurements and photographs of the site are taken to define all of these pieces. Getting a site plan and blueprint of the house is also helpful.

After determining those items that are not negotiable, the designer can start getting creative and collect the pieces that will make the landscape beautiful and unique to the client and the site. Pieces like natural stone or paver materials that best suit the needs and style of the customer, pathways, patios, garden bed location, size and shape; plant selections that will suit the soil type and sun exposure in the different areas of the yard. In what areas do they want privacy? Can we screen some areas with plantings, fences, pergolas? Are there views to open up? Can we “borrow” beauty from beyond the site by framing it with perimeter plantings that draw the eye out? Where can we repeat the architecture or lines of the home within the landscape to create cohesion, or “fit” the landscape to the home?

Unlike doing a boxed puzzle, not every one of the pieces has to be used. They all should however be recognized, weighed out, and prioritized to determine how they fit with first the facts of the site, then the style. After careful consideration and much sketching, the final picture begins to take shape. The pieces come together to make a whole that makes sense and looks beautiful. Just don’t bump the table!

Bloch’s Farm is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. We have a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! July 2nd – July 4th: 50% Off Hanging Baskets!

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