Form Follows Function

Form and Function Landscape Design Tips

When we have an idea for how we want to design our yards, the first and most obvious question we ask is, “What is the function?”
Do we want a place to play catch or basketball with the kids? Do we want space to lounge beside a sprawling swimming pool? Do we need a place for outdoor dining, or for entertainment, or are we looking for a place to relax and connect with nature? Usually, some combination of these types of desires are what get our creative minds working. By applying these functions as though they are part of your blank canvas is the best place to start your design concept.

The saying “Form follows function,” is a concept that is generally credited to Louis Sullivan, America’s first truly modern architect, and was adapted and made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright. Personally, I think of it in landscape as, the layout needs to reflect the purpose of the yard; where elements have intended functions that are effective and aesthetically pleasing. Similar to a kitchen design where efficiency dictates placing the stove, refrigerator, and sink in a triangle, we should think about how we lay out our spaces for maximum effectiveness first, and then prioritize how to do this in a way that adds the most aesthetic value. Once you devise the basic function and its necessities, weaving beauty into the design can have just as much emphasis as the practical elements.

Often there is more than one right way to achieve our goals. Usually, it takes compromise and clever prioritizing. Is aesthetics the most important part or is it the function or the cost? In a puzzle, the solver is expected to put pieces together in a logical way. When a designer is configuring a design, they need to balance all the elements with ABC’s of design (Aesthetics, Budget, Constraints & Function). Sometimes the functions and constraints limit how the puzzle is put together, but there are infinite ways to use aesthetics to make the project unique and fit individual tastes. That is where the creative minds of the designer, owner and craftsmanship of the builder have the opportunity to make a project really special.
Do you still have more questions on how to design your outdoor space? – drop us a line!