It goes without saying that when planning your home, you designate specific spaces – living room, dining room, bedroom – for different purposes and equip each one with what is necessary for the activities that take place there. But do you do the same when it comes to your garden? According to the best landscapers, you should. “We always divide the space into several rooms,” designer Fernando Wong said at a panel discussion at Beautiful House Question of the outdoors.
This idea of turning a yard, regardless of its size, into multiple exterior “rooms” was a theme that came up repeatedly throughout the planning stages of our exterior issue. Because while the average person may think of their outdoor space as a huge “backyard,” the best landscapers know how to turn that area into beautiful and usable spaces, just as their indoor counterparts do indoors.
Nowhere is this lesson more evident than in the gardens of Janell Hobart Denler Hobart Gardens designed for a home designed by Mark Sikes in Marin County. The landscape surrounding the historic house includes two dining rooms (one on the lower level and one on the ground floor), a poolside cabana, an outdoor bar, an edible garden, an inground trampoline, a soccer field. and a pétanque court. “The family really wanted each region to have a specific program,” says Hobart.
And yet the landscape hardly seems massive, nor a vast expanse of open lawns. Instead, this plethora of usable outdoor spaces is achieved by designating specific areas, which fit into each other and into the landscape. For the bocce court, for example, Hobart used a narrow section of courtyard next to the house that might otherwise go unnoticed. From now on, it is a destination, connected to the other outdoor spaces of the house.
Indeed, a bit like in a real house, flow between spaces matters almost as much as what is in the spaces themselves. “We wanted each area to lead to another area and another,” Hobart says of his design.
The same reflection goes into the creation of partitions: In the same house, a road passes just behind the swimming pool; Hobart used the strategic plantation to hide it. “We have superimposed the plantation around the pool to the point where you can’t see the road at all,” she explains. The result is yet another secluded relaxation area that is always linked to the spaces that surround it.
Dividing your garden in this way isn’t just for fun times for the family: lounging by the pool while the kids play soccer in the other “room”? Yes, please, but also creates an ideal setup for outdoor entertaining, a consideration that has taken on increased importance over the past year.
“More than just gardens per se, landscapes should also allow socialization, because if people socialized in the last year, they did it outdoors,” says David Godshall of Terremoto. “While, perhaps historically, we would have proposed something more pure garden, now it is a question of thinking of the gardens as well as the outdoor lounges.”
In the gardens of a Bel Air house designed by Studio Shamshiri, the Godshall team created an “outdoor lounge” with a fireplace and surrounded by tall hedges on one side and a hill of weather-resistant vegetation. drought on the other. The effect is what Pamela Shamshiri calls a “refuge”, a space enveloping, welcoming, even comfortable– not often a term associated with the outdoors.
And yes, these two examples are high-end and tailor-made solutions; but the concept can be extended to any size yard. Why not divide a lot next to it with a dining room at one end and a fireplace at the other, for example? Or plant shrubs or hedges to delimit rooms of any size? The bottom line: if you think your garden is just a stretch of grass to mow, think again; there is another room house there, if you are strategic and creative enough to dream about it.
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