The Essential Steps to Landscape Design is a novel landscape design book written by Patricia Block. Published in 1986, it is considered to be one of the seminal books in the field of landscape design.
Blocks’ philosophy is that, the design should not be concerned with color, shape, or size but rather what needs to be accomplished should be outlined in the instructions on the package. This is the basic principle of Landscape Design Manuals and one of the reasons why the Essential Steps to Landscape Design was so successful.
Blocks begins her guide with a look at what plants need for the design, and how these can influence the way the house feels. Blocks is very conscious of the environment, because she has spent her entire life dealing with it. She points out that while some plants may be small, they often come in large numbers and are more easily picked up than smaller plants.
Plants can change the mood of a room and blocks describes how she worked around plant availability and compatibility in order to improve her home. As a guide to house design, this is an excellent guide. I found that, while some of the plants are easy to work with, others require a great deal of work.
One of the areas that was a challenge was working with trees and shrubs. Blocks refers to these as ‘dead tree trunks’ and describes the steps that she took to make sure they were all able to co-exist together in the house.
Once you have made the decision on the shade tree or shrub, you can begin to create a plan of where you will plant them. Blocks suggests that this might be the best place to start; since the plants will start to be noticed.
It is an important consideration to know the size of the tree you are planting, because this will determine the direction and location. For example, a broadleaf tree is going to grow in the center of the room, and you can use this to the advantage of the room by trying to look for a corner. Using plants that are just a little smaller in size is also an option, although this might limit the options.
For those looking for plants that will be a little larger than the next plant, like, for example, trees, blocks recommends that you do some research. You want to try and find similar colors, but not too similar. She stresses that a garden should be something beautiful, and not something that can ruin the design.
In addition to using plants, blocks also points out that you will need to consider the flow of the room, what to do with furniture, and other things. An interesting note is that the ‘essential steps to landscape design’ actually talks about the general design that you need to use for the room and how to incorporate those into the specific instructions in the book.
One of the things that makes this book so useful is that it describes other books, which is very helpful to someone who has yet to get started with building a garden. If you read the book first, you can use it as a guide to reading books, and you can find other guides to help you from there.
The Basic Steps to Landscape Design does have one drawback. Blocks mentions in the beginning that it is not intended for home use, but that does not stop you from buying it as a kit and taking it home.
This book will be very helpful for someone who has never worked with plants or who wants to explore using landscaping for the first time. It will make things much easier if you buy the book as a kit, but you can learn as you go.