Functional Landscaping

The best landscaping involves so much more than an experienced eye for design and a working knowledge of trees, plants and flowers. Greenery and colorful blooms must be placed for maximum vitality and longevity – planted in sunshine or shade, water- retaining or drier soil, cooler or warmer locations. Waterfalls or artfully arranged rocks can draw attention towards or away from natural features to complete the perfect tableau. Professional landscaping elements chosen for an elementary school, for example, would be very different from what a landscape designer would recommend for a college campus.

A positive first impression helps draw prospective students and their parents to any school. What draws their eye as the driveway leads them up to the building and parking area? Is the overall affect inviting, somewhere your child would feel comfortable and safe? The property of a modern elementary school bears little resemblance to the outside of your parents’ or grandparent’s childhood school. Today, administrators, educators and landscape designers understand that children’s outside space can affect their physical health and social development. It’s important to create a fun environment that encourages children to gather, play and learn. These elements are popular for designing today’s elementary school grounds:

  • Kids like themed playground elements, like a dinosaur or castle motif
  • Trees keep the air fresh, mitigate noise, and offer shade on a hot day
  • Modular and artistic features allow for easy assembly and the ability to change configurations.
  • Grass fields encourage physical activities during recess, like soccer or ball-tossing, and double as a venue for physical education classes
  • Bright colors, with bloomers and painted, strategically placed playground equipment stimulate the mind
  • Areas that focus on a particular habitat, like desert plants or a shared vegetable garden, offer variety and pique interest. Where climate allows, community school gardens are becoming more popular than ever.

All of these features keep children active and engaged on their recess break and send them back to class refreshed and ready to learn.

In a college campus setting, landscape design takes on a whole new level of importance. Curb appeal is essential, as college-bound children and their parents visit a campus for the first time. According to USA Home Remodeling, about 62 percent of students say their school choice was based on appearance alone.

Higher institutions of learning are under more pressure than ever to offer sustainable elements like LEED certified buildings and adherence to high standards when it comes to recycling, conservation and related degrees. Many prospective students and their parents require a cutting-edge educational environment in which these principles are also reflected in the college’s outdoor spaces. The landscape design becomes a tangible asset when a recruited athlete tours the campus’s sports facilities – indoor and outdoor – and likes what s/he sees. The quality of these venues influences the college’s financial health. Raising money builds athletic programs, which affect fundraising and alumni contributions.

University of Michigan studies show that when students are surrounded by appealing landscapes, their mental health and scholastic performance improve. Greenery also inspires physical activity, cleans the air by removing carbon, and provides gathering spaces that foster community and pride in their school.

Landscape design is about more than aesthetics. Creating a school’s space – elementary or college-level – is about function as well as form. Green features and other interesting elements can awaken the senses, clear the mind, encourage social interaction, and bring joy to the beholder. What does your landscaping inspire?

If you’re changing or adding grass, shrubs and trees, the landscape features that arouse the senses, you’re going to need reliable tools. The specialists at will help steer your project in the right direction.

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