Not every landscape designer is the same

Australian Institute of Landscape Designers & Managers

By Karen Staunton-Ross
Tuesday, 29 December, 2015

Not every landscape designer is the same

A quick look through any pool magazine will confirm that a great looking pool is about more than just the colour of the tiles. Trying to create a sensational pool and garden to meet a client’s requirements may require input from other professionals.

Where to start

While pool building may be your area of expertise, does this knowledge extend to the approval process or to designing the area around a pool for the highest impact? Working with a landscape designer may save you a lot of time and worry.

A landscape designer can look at the big picture: How does the pool aesthetically relate to the house? How does the pool integrate with the rest of the yard? What is happening behind the pool? Are there level changes that need to be addressed? Is there an easy transition between functional areas of the site? Where will the pool fence be installed? Are there particular issues of privacy or overlooking to be considered? What plants can be supported on the site to create the effect the client wants?

If there are significant trees in the general area where the pool is to be constructed, talking with an arborist early in the process can allow their recommendations to be incorporated into the design.

Initial design

An initial design can provide an indication of how the house, pool and yard will work together. These plans are generally not particularly technical but rather show the layout and size of the pool while highlighting any glaringly obvious compliance issues.

Plans for assessment

Each state and territory has its own set of rules and regulations relating to pools and these mostly relate to the setbacks and levels. There are other controls that limit the extent of built-upon area and impervious area; and others that require a minimum area of soft landscaping. Being aware of and addressing these issues from the beginning can contribute to a relatively smooth application phase.

Plans produced for local government authorities or certifiers need to provide information required by those bodies. The landscape designer can work with the pool builder to ensure that the required information is clearly shown in a way that allows the most efficient assessment of the project.

Planting around a pool

Plants look good around pools. They can provide shade, screening and privacy while making an outdoor space look stunning. Planning what plants to include and where they should be planted around the pool can avoid investing years in the wrong plant. Typically a landscape designer will bring sound horticultural expertise to the process and provide a range of plants suited to the site, thinking not only about mature height and form of the plant, but also the type and size of leaf. Plants with small leaves or plants that shed every day can be a maintenance nightmare.

Not every landscape designer is the same

Consider what you want from a designer: Do you need them to do more than design? Do they need to have a thorough understanding of the approval process? Will they need to coordinate and liaise with other technicians and consultants that may be required for the project? Some landscape designers will have limited experience with pools and others will have limited experience in dealing with councils and certifiers. Still others will offer a complete array of expertise and services. It is important to have the conversation and confirm that the designer you are engaging is suited to the task.

More information

There are various bodies across Australia with members that can provide design services. The Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM) is Australia’s leading association representing landscape designers. AILDM’s website has more information and lists members.

Accredited members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists can provide objective and accurate assessments of the impacts of development on trees.

Karen Stuanton-Ross has served on the National Council of the AILDM since 2005. She provides professional landscape design and management services — specialising in landscape and pool design.

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