chapter  7
Designing with Plants in Mind
Pages 16

Working with plants, living materials, gets us to the core that defines what makes landscape architects unique in the design professions. When working with living matter, one needs to not only take into consideration the intrinsic physicality of the materials but additionally take into account and project how the living materials change from season to season and throughout their life cycle. Bricks and mortar materials do not impose the same way of thinking that plants require of a designer. This is not to say that building materials are entirely static as they do age, deteriorate, and require maintenance and repair over time. However, the aging or maturation process is significantly different than plants, given that plants grow, change form, and change physically with the seasons and over the years. For instance, some trees change color during the year and they also lose their leaves for long periods of time, particularly in the late fall and winter months when the angle of sunlight is lower on the horizon than during the summer months. Trees and other plants that shed their leaves in the winter are deciduous plants. This condition of trees without leaves in the winter gives the landscape architect the design opportunity of selecting deciduous trees and shrubs to place them along the south-facing façade of buildings to reduce heat gain from direct sun in the summer and allow heat gain for the building in the winter. Landscape architects consider plant species selection to accomplish a range of applications such as create and define space. Plants are used to moderate climate, buffer strong, prevailing winds, and buffer unwanted sound or filter unattractive views.