Monday, September 23, 2013

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Enclosure vs. Exposure

Most people crave both public time and private time.  They enjoy being part of a family or a tribe or a community, but they also need time alone to think, refresh, and center themselves. Many landscapes reflect this dual personality as well by featuring areas of exposure and enclosure.

In the urban environment our choices are limited by space, topography, and building codes.  Suburbanites may also have the dreaded HOA restrictions to deal with as well.  Here's a case study (a project that I did NOT design) that shows how small gestures can create the desired atmosphere...

Front yards can be ideal for creating a sense of community, especially when you turn a ho-hum lawn into an intriguing garden. This is especially easy to do when you have a shallow front yard that doesn't lend itself well to extended porches, play areas, or formal courtyards. Passers-by will slow down to investigate and see what's new.  Incorporate a few chairs, and it's easy to strike up a conversation. Embrace the idea of exposure — this is how strong neighborhoods are built.
A comfy chair on the porch and a couple more in the garden are welcoming.
Two chairs are an invitation to stop and visit a while.

In the back yard, privacy can be created softly — no need for massive brick walls or towering evergreens — by layering plant groupings and connecting bits of architecture.  An enclosure that is soft and fluid keeps the spirit of the outdoors alive.  Pop up your umbrella, and the space becomes even more intimate.
Strategically placed plants offer a soft screen

An umbrella or other canopy keeps the space protected and cozy.

A look back towards the's disappeared!

I hope this has given you a few ideas how you can achieve a balance of activity and peacefulness in your landscape.  Join my fellow members of the Garden Designer's Roundtable here for more on enclosure and exposure, or click on the links below.


Robert Webber said...

Jocelyn, that is a great point - the idea of veils rather than blotting out views completely. Thanks so much for posting. But 4 u & Douglas I would have been completely on my own! Best R

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

My pleasure, Robert! Yes, a soft approach often is the best solution.

Anonymous said...

The solution to enclose and expose you're showing is an interesting take on Doug's. Veils, sheer curtains, etc are also nice and quite relaxed...I wonder if they impart a breezy effect, too?

The front porch...that distills much of what makes this work. I like such spaces too much! I need to design some more of those...

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

I can't claim any credit for this design --- totally homeowner generated --- but i love the effect.

Thanks for stopping by, David!