Garden Design Requirements

By Marshall Clewis

The "new look" in building architecture started in Europe, and on this continent in California, early in the 20th century. It did not come to Canada until after the Second World War. Basically, modern architecture is functional rather than decorative. It emphasizes the structural mass in buildings and calls for ordered surroundings.

Garden planning has not developed a modern style to such a clear extent as architecture, since traditional materials and practices have not changed as much in gardening as in building. Gardens cannot be purely practical as their function is largely decorative. Their reasons for existence are to provide beauty, relaxation and a natural setting for the buildings. When we work with complex natural forms, it is difficult to adhere to the plain surfaces characteristic of modern architecture.

Today we arrange plants in new forms to suit the scale and proportions of the new buildings; and we arrange the space in our gardens to suit our changing social habits. The key idea in modern garden planning has been to consider the garden as an outdoor extension of the house for the comfort of the family, rather than as a plant museum. This idea has also led to using more outdoor furniture, lighting, BBQ, screens, shelters, swimming pools and other things for decoration.

The average homeowner wants pleasing surroundings and a place to relax, with little labor and expense. Most of us look after our own gardens with perhaps a little unskilled labor for grass cutting and other regular chores. Unless gardening becomes our hobby, we will have less variety of plants than in the past. Also, there will be more careful planning of space as we become more appreciative of good design.

Because we need privacy, where there is little space we now use screens of closely woven lattice, opaque plastic or broad louvers of plywood to separate our garden from the neighbor's. The more expensive walls of masonry or boundary plantings of trees and shrubs take up too much room to be used in a small garden.

Plants of rather unusual form are used in front of these flat surfaces to cast interesting and changing shadows not artificial lights. The effect of moving light and shadow is given by the lattice or louvers themselves, or by "egg-crate" beams in the roof overhangs on garden shelters. The interest of this movement is a substitute for variety in planting and artificial light for plants.

Concrete paving blocks and three-dimensional cast figures are taking the place of more expensive stonework and statues. The outdoor barbeque grill, with dad cooking has replaced tray-carrying servants for entertaining.

Because we like to sit and enjoy the garden from one spot, raised masonry planters, decorative pottery or flower beds are used to connect the inside of the house with the garden, when viewed from inside. - 29857

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