Where To Go To Feel Inspired

On the Soapstone Valley Trail to Rock Creek Park / image: Alexandra Hay

Landscape architects consider places in terms of their sustainability, aesthetics, design, ecological soundness, accessibility, and plant palettes, among many other facets and factors. But how often do you think about places as sources of inspiration? When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members where they go to feel inspired, responses ranged from the general to super-specific spots that spark their creativity.

For many, the key to finding inspiration is simply going outside. A walk in the woods was one of the most popular responses, and being near water—whether by a river or on the beach—was another frequent answer. Here are the key themes that members touched on:

Inspired by Nature

“A quiet place in nature, whether man-made or natural.”

“Any vantage point with a panoramic view of undisturbed land.”

“Bike ride in a rural roadway.”

“A walk outside in a park, forest, or prairie.”

“Public lands, parks—great spaces open to the public.”

“I take a walk (unfortunately it’s often here in the ‘burbs but even the most boring landscapes provoke ideas and thoughts).”

Spadina Wavedeck, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, West 8 + DTAH, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category. The Wavedeck form was inspired by the sinuous contours of Ontario’s shorelines. / image: West 8 + DTAH

Cities, Museums, & Elsewhere

“Any urban plaza where people are present.”

“Power line rights of way, other off-the-beaten path places hidden in the city.”

“Art museums.”

“White space galleries.”

“Local public and private botanical and art gardens.”


“Historic districts and cultural landscapes.”

“Project sites.”

“The library.”

“Coffee with friends.”



“Non-profit organizations where I volunteer.”

“Morning runs in various locations around the world.”

The Japanese Garden, Maymont, Richmond, VA / image: Alexandra Hay

Specific Locations for Inspiration

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Portland, OR

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

Cambridge, MA

Central America

Nitobe Memorial Garden, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Opus 40 in Woodstock, NY

Missouri Botanical Garden

Mount Rainier

Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA

The eastern Sierra near Mono Lake

“Milwaukee’s Lake Park, designed by the Olmsted firm.”

“Sketching at the great Hudson River estates.”

“The mountains (Yosemite, the Catskills), Central Park, the New York Botanical Garden, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, the beach in East Hampton.”

The Conservatory Garden in Central Park / image: Alexandra Hay

Publications & The Web

“Books by designers I respect.”

LAM and other design-focused periodicals.”

The Dirt, Planetizen, firm websites.”

Google Maps




“Scholarly writing about landscape, beautiful urban spaces & transitioning spaces, natural history.”

At the start of 2015, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: creativity and inspired design. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2015, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

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