Spatial Composition in Landscaping

Think of your landscape as a three-dimensional space with a floor, walls and a ceiling. Try these tips for using plants, hardscapes and built structures to define your outdoor rooms.

Photo By: Stuart Lirette

Choose Your Floors

Depending on your needs, the "floors" of your outdoor spaces can range from soft surfaces like grass or mulch to hard surfaces like decking or concrete. In this yard designed by Robert Hursthouse, brick pavers define the seating area, while a large expanse of grass creates a kid-friendly play area.

Find Your Style

Like you would for your home's interior, consider color, texture and pattern when choosing floors for your outdoor spaces. A unique swirl of small rocks within a pattern of larger stones creates an interesting focal point for this patio.

Plant Your Walls

Plants in various textures, shapes and sizes can create the "walls" of your outdoor space. An assortment of plants paired with a retaining wall of railroad ties makes this space feel intimate yet still open. Pea gravel acts as a comfortable carpet. Design by Jane Ellison

Define the Space

Walls of hedges or evergreen trees add more structure and privacy to an outdoor space. Columnar trees surround the backyard of HGTV Green Home 2009, creating a private spot for al fresco entertaining. Design by Linda Woodrum

Build It Up

Built structures, such as fences, walls or arbors, can also act as the walls of your outdoor spaces. In this landscape, designer Pamela Berstler paired slatted wood walls with a composite deck, creating a private and well-defined dining area.

Work With Existing Structures

Like built structures, the side of a house or building can double as a wall for an outdoor room. The adobe exterior of a historic house helps delineate this inviting patio, designed by Chad Robert.

Provide Shelter

The "ceiling" of your outdoor space should offer shade and a feeling of protection. In this space, a trellised ceiling provides a sense of enclosure while maintaining an open and airy feel. A pergola, shade sail or tree can accomplish a similar effect.

Think Beyond the Yard

Incorporate viewing portals in your landscape to extend site lines and orient you. This garden's gate provides a glimpse of what's beyond, creating a sense of flow and movement within the space.

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