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Commercial Landscape Design, West Ashley: “Balancing Aesthetics and Requirements”

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This project presented unique challenges due to design requirements set by Charleston County. Most notably, I was required to place deciduous canopy trees near the entrances to the property, something I normally wouldn’t do. Entrances are immensely important to commercial properties; without the county’s restrictions, I would have outlined them with symmetrical, evergreen, non-canopy trees and shrubs the way that columns and railings outline entrances to structures. I was able to outline the entrance to the building with a tiered sabal minor/palmetto tree combination, however.

Despite the limitations, I was able to implement one of my most important design principles: use of as many low-maintenance, native evergreens as possible. As always, I made a concerted effort to balance color, texture, scale, and density, utilize consistency and symmetry, and outline entrances, exits, and areas of traffic flow as well the property and the building itself.

I arranged plants and lighting on the side that faces Savannah Highway in such a way that the sign and the building are the focus.

As I typically do, I grouped “barrier island” Lowcountry plants such as palmetto trees, sabal minors, and sweetgrass and used crepe myrtles and wax myrtles to bridge the aforementioned barrier island plants with groups of “inland Lowcountry” plants such as elms, plums, and azaleas.

The project culminated in a landscape plan that balanced aesthetic appeal and utility, creativity and necessity. It was well-received by property owners, county officials, and neighboring property owners alike.


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