While vacationing with my family at the Walt Disney World Resort last fall it occurred to me that the landscapes at that place can be so strikingly beautiful, so overwhelmingly perfect, that the average homeowner might not appreciate some of the aspects of these landscapes that will apply to their homes and gardens. But there are many “take home lessons” from the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts and their great landscapes.
Perhaps the most basic lesson is to plan your landscape, or let a professional help you. Now, I don’t know the organizational flow chart of the Horticulture department there, but I can safely guess that they have a few landscape architects and designers on staff. These are professional, experienced people that are capable and prepared to design those magical landscapes. You can use this same approach in your home landscape. It doesn’t matter if your home is a year old or a hundred years, it is never too late (or too soon, for that matter) to start the design process. Hire a landscape professional that you like and to whom you feel comfortable talking. Check their references, and see how well they listen to you. A designer who wants to do a ‘cookie-cutter’ design or who wants to impose their own design ideals is not for you. And of course, a design can be planted in phases, as time and money allow.
After getting a thoughtful landscape design, let’s do something else that Disney does well: Create a spectacular entrance! Every one of the four major parks, as well as every resort on the property has a well-done entrance. Each one clearly communicates a mood or a tone that the ‘guests’ can expect to find once inside. Accomplishing this in a subdivision is a little trickier than in a theme park, but the lesson still applies. The way I apply this idea is to make the front of the home as welcoming and inviting as possible. It’s part of my fundamental design criterion to draw the viewers eye into the landscape, right up to the front door. I accomplish this through the use of bed lines, contrasting textures of the plantings, framing the view, and a judicious use of color. It’s important to avoid overly busy home landscapes as this will only draw attention to the landscape itself, rather than the front door of the home.