By: Steve Boulden
Your outdoor landscape can provide a natural and functional extension of your indoor living space if designed to complement your home and your suit your family’s needs. Hobbies such as gardening (of course!), swimming, lawn sports, creative arts should be consider as should how you spend your leisure time. Do you enjoy dining outside? Reading or writing? Do you prefer lots of direct sunlight or a bit more shade? Do you seek a secluded oasis, want a children’s playground, need privacy for an outdoor spa or hot tub? Think about and note anything you like to do or hope to do in your outdoor space.
Once you have done so, plot your desired areas for these activities on your site plan, keeping in mind the different living areas inside your home. It is best to draw them into a rough house layout on your site plan. Activity areas can include a sports area, dining area, public zone, pool- or pondside, entrance, living area, leisure or quiet area, storage, work area, and vegetable and flower gardens. Outline them on your plot plan.
Rules of thumb to consider are: a) remember to have your outdoor activity areas complement your inside living areas, so that an outdoor deck or patio flows naturally off of your living room or family room; your den has a pleasant view from its bay window; your work area is near your garage, etc.; and b) be sure to arrange landscaping areas according to neighboring area’ use and function. If you have children, your pool and any playground areas should be easily visible from outdoor and indoor areas, always most preferably with a view from within your home. Likewise, you may want to buffer or add privacy fences or hedging to block your children’s view of certain aspects on abutting properties.
For younger children, an outdoor environment should encourage play by inviting them into it with easy access, open, flowing, and relaxed spaces, and clear movement from indoors to outdoors. Your landscape should stimulate the senses with change and contrasts in scale, light, texture, and color, provide diverse experiences, and offer safe ground cover and places for creative play. If you have pets, consider both their needs and those of your neighbors. Make notes of all aspects of your current landscape and those you desire to implement. It can be helpful to take a poll of your family members, asking them what they want, what they don’t like, and so on. Once you are done with your initial plot plan, you can transfer it onto graph paper and draw areas and certain features to scale.