Ideally, when we design our home landscapes, we look at our property as a whole and choose an organic design that incorporates the various goals and features we desire. In this video, the most recent in our Landscape Design Concepts series, Julie talks about the basic layout arrangements for residential landscape designs. To learn more, see Chapter 3, “Big Moves,” of Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love.
Prior videos in our Design Concepts for Your Landscape series:
- Evaluating Your Site
- Your Daydreaming Place: Discovering Your Ideal Landscape
- Sloped versus Level Site
Click the image above to watch the video. Video: JMMDS.
‘Choosing a Layout’ Video transcript:
“So ‘Choosing a Layout’, let me start with that. There are four kinds of basic layouts to every site, I think, when I come down to it. Here’s what I call ‘Immersed or Exposed’ and that’s the situation where there’s a house on a piece of land and its either completely filled up all around the house, like a house that sits in a forest is completely immersed, or a house that sits out in the desert that is completely exposed. Now here’s an ‘Immersed’ situation. So you think, ‘Well why would anyone want to be immersed?’. Well guess what, I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘I love to be in a forest my husband likes to be on a desert. What do we do?’. Here’s the problem, some people really want to feel immersed, some people, and they want to fill the entire space up with wildflowers. They may plant groves of trees. They may locate their house in the middle of a cathedral pine forest. That’s an immersed condition that some of us want. Some of us want exposure. Some of us just want to be out in the middle looking out at the view, not too much shading us or taking away from that. Many of us feel much more secure that way–we’re all different.
Then there’s another condition from ‘Immersed and Exposed’ called ‘House Front-and-Center’. That’s what I call it, this is the one we know in America so much. The house sits sort of in the middle the property and around it its got a fringe of foundation plantings, or whatever, that set the house off as very important and then the rest the property in some ways is not dealt with.
So here’s a really nice version that condition–here’s a fabulous house, sort of a Victoriana house with some Tudor finishes to it and around it. Here’s all the grass around it, nice Astilbe at the edge of the property, but right around it is a beautiful planting, and this is the house, front-and-center, it’s the most important thing on that landscape. Problem is–Where are you in space around the house? Where do you feel comfortable around the house? Like the ‘Exposed’ condition, right? Where do you actually go out there to get away from the house and use the landscape around you?
And then there’s ‘Central Clearing’, that’s what I call it, where the house sits there in the middle of a big open space and then there’s stuff around that. This is like the pioneers when they came to Vermont, or wherever, and they had this big forested condition and they cut out a space that made lots of room for light and air around the house and then they created the vegetable gardens in that space. This is a typical one that we see too. Here is a sort of a funny, hard-to-see slide, but here’s the house and here outside is the forest and around the house are things that happen. In this case a bunch of different gardens and terraces. So that’s another condition. I’m just trying to lay these out so you can think about them.
The one that I think is most prevalent today for us in the modern day is ‘Open Air Rooms’ where inside the house there are a bunch of rooms, but outside the house there are a bunch of different rooms as well. That’s what this one is. You’ve got a little space here, a living space, you’ve got a space here, one there, you’ve got a whole pizza oven I’ll show you in a little bit over here and then the house. So really the landscape is an extension of the house along a veranda, in a way, a hallway with rooms off of it that just extend from inside to out. This is probably the one that most of us would love to have because we get to use our landscape that way, lots of different things to do in the landscape.”