The previous chapters discussed the ideal process and guidelines for designing the site around a private single-family residence. From this, it is hoped the reader understands that there is much to consider in creating a master plan that meets the requirements of the client, fits the existing site conditions, and is something that is enjoyable to look at and be in. Designing a master plan for a single-family residential site is a complex undertaking that also requires the best effort from a talented individual or firm. Ultimately, the success of the project depends not only on following a process or adhering to a set of principles, but also on the inherent abilities of gifted designers who can creatively solve problems and sensitively assemble elements and materials into an attractive spatial composition.
The Duncan residence was used in the previous chapters as a way to illustrate how the different steps of the design process can be applied to an actual project site. The Duncan residence is similar to many single-family residential properties found in suburbs throughout the United States and Canada. The two-story house is located in the middle of a rectangular lot that is about a quarter of an acre in size. The level site is clearly divided into a front yard facing the street and a backyard behind the house. Like many residential sites, the house was originally built on a cleared site and so was essentially a blank canvas for the original homeowners. The relatively flat, open qualities of the Duncan residence provided few restraints and easily permitted the designer to create a series of well – articulated outdoor rooms with plant materials, structures, and pavement.
Though prototypical, the Duncan residence does not represent all potential site conditions that one encounters as a residential landscape designer. Some sites are smaller and others are larger. Other sites have distinct topographic change in some or all areas of the property. Still other residential sites have large areas covered with trees or other types of native vegetation. Some residential projects are limited to an enclosed space adjacent to a townhouse, and other projects are surrounded by and open to a rural wilderness. All in all, the landscape designer is apt to discover a wide variety of site conditions, each requiring a slightly different application of the design process to create a master plan. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how the design process and guidelines presented in the previous chapters can be modified and adapted to sites that have special conditions.