Residential Landscapes: Opportunities and Constraints for Design

Opportunities and constraints or pros and cons in residential landscapes are identified in the analysis phase of landscape design following a complete inventory  of all elements on the property.

Identify all elements on the property and note them on the landscape or plot plan. Decide what elements should be kept or enhanced and what should be changed or removed. Also, get a sense of how the site “feels”. For instance, the site might feel exposed due to a lack of privacy.

Opportunities (pros) are elements on the property that offer a positive addition or emphasis to the landscape. These include:

  • Pleasing views from within a building or adjacent to a property
  • Specimen trees
  • Unique focal points
  • Areas where water can be retained
  • Edges of natural and cultivated landscapes provide opportunities  to use native and water-wise plants

Constraints (cons) are generally elements that reduce functionality or aesthetics. These include:

  • Junked cars on neighboring properties (these are usually regulated by municipal codes)
  • Unsightly buildings or other structures
  • Loud road noise
  • Poorly drained soils
  • Soils with low water retention
  • Winds
  • Precipitation
  • Privacy
  • Hot south and west facing sites and other areas where evapotranspiration may be high

It is important to note that some elements may be both an opportunity and a constraint.

Once the opportunities and constraints in the residential landscape have been identified and the analysis completed, the landscape design phase of the process can proceed.

Additional Resources:


Iowa – Home Landscape Planning Worksheet: 12 Steps to a Functional Design


Florida – Landscape Design: Analyzing Site Conditions