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Factoring in
What to consider over lot size when planning your landscape design


May 2016

Photo by Connor Martin, courtesy of Flagstone

Every great landscape begins with a plan.

While the amount of space is an obvious parameter to any design, three local designers point to other factors. Peter Kudlata, principal of Flagstone in Cedarburg, Wendy Wiza, a staff designer at Hartland-based Century Landscaping, and Steve Brown, president of Outdoor Accents in Thiensville, emphasize architecture/spatial relationships, function, focal points and municipal codes over lot size.

Architecture/Spatial Relationships

Consider the architecture of the building as well as the neighborhood, Kudlata says. Planting a prairie paired with a formal home is a no-no, and natural landscapes donít work with neighborhoods filled with smaller suburban lots.

"If you have a smaller lot, look for more upright plants," he says. "Horizontal plants are more compatible with larger lots."

Kudlata also promotes the idea of creating front porch areas separate from nearby public spaces. Other spatial considerations, he says, involve views to and from particular rooms in the home.

Photo courtesy of Flagstone

Scale issues also must be considered, Wiza adds.

"Even if you have a 2-acre lot, there is no reason to build an overly large patio because no one wants to sit on a sea of paving," she explains. "Conversely, trying to squeeze multiple landscape features in a tiny lot will make it feel crowded and chaotic. Just because you have a big yard does not mean you have to go big."

Phased-in landscaping is an option for super-sized spaces, says Wiza.


Our experts say initial client contact focuses on function.

"Whether you are just relaxing with a glass of wine and a book or entertaining friends and family, we want you to function as you would inside your home," Brown says. He says lighting is important. Lighting can now be user-friendly, with systems controlled from oneís personal "smart device."

Focal Point(s)

A broad array of hard surface objects and plantings can serve as focal points. Emphasis can be on relaxation, dining or recreation. If the lot is large enough, natural "rooms" can be created to create multiple focal points.

"If there is enough of a natural landscape, you can create destination areas such as a pond, or a boccie ball or volleyball court," Kudlata says.

Municipal Codes

A plan first must adhere to local codes. Wiza says that while some municipalities have loosened rules to accommodate residential growth, natural areas filled with trees and many lake properties have restrictions imposed by local authority.

"Homeowners are surprised when they find out they may be taxed on a part of the lot that they canít develop," Wiza notes. "They need to check their plat of survey."

Popular items such as fire pits, she adds, may be required to be set back from the property and run by gas.

"In-ground pools may need to be within a masonry foundation," Wiza says. "That means the foundation would need to be built out to that site. There is a lot of work in landscaping that no one sees, but is important to the project. Itís all part of the work." M



This story ran in the May 2016 issue of: