American Landscape Trio - Public, Service and Private Areas

By Keith Markensen

Down through the ages various nations and races have developed certain styles in gardening largely because of the different climates and topographical features in their particular parts of the world. If you want to do some extra reading on the history of the landscape art, you will find good books on all phases of the subject in public libraries. The important thing concerning the evolution of the landscape art in America is the fact that there has been developed a distinct style which is admirably suited to our modem way of life. Consequently, in professional circles, it is referred to as the "American Style."

Years ago I remember meeting the famed Brazilian landscape design visionary Roberto Burle Marx who's style fascinated me but was of a completely different flavor than American Style.

Public Area

Basically, American Style is built around the theory that for maximum efficiency, privacy, and beauty, the property shall be divided into three distinct sections: the public area, the service area, and the private area.

The public area is, naturally, that part which is generally seen by the public when walking or riding past the front of the property. Many of us are in the habit of calling it the "front yard." This area, although you have paid for it, pay taxes on it, and also maintain it, does not in a sense belong to you; rather, it is more or less a part of the community, since so many people can see it. Therefore, in all fairness to your neighbors, you should attempt to follow certain set rules concerning its design.

Reciprocal Planning

This also works the other way around in as much as you have to look at the public areas of other home owners. These rules, generally speaking work toward a public area that is pleasant to look at and adds to the dignity of the neighborhood as a whole.

Service Area

The service area of a property is that portion set aside or designated for the more utilitarian activities around a home, such as the garage, driveway and turn-court, yard, garbage cans, compost piles, children's play areas, cut-flower gardens, vegetable gardens, etc.

Since this area is important to the efficient functioning of the home, and the remainder of the garden, plan it with the same thoughtful consideration that you have given to the public and private area. You can also add some umbrella tree to highlight it.

All too often, the home gardener is prone to expend his time, money, and effort on areas where the results will be most evident. Since few outside the family will see service area, it may be neglected.

Private Area

The third or private area is perhaps the most important to the true enjoyment of your home property. This is where the landscape is arranged for you and your friends to enjoy while you are actually in the garden, or as you look out at it through windows or doorways of your home. It is an area devoted solely to relaxation, beauty, and meditation. - 29857

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