Elements in the living area, primarily the backyard, depend upon the desires and needs of the family. These desires and needs were determined during the interview outlined previously. This area must be clearly organized to avoid wasted space. Living area space must be organized based on the activities to be included there. Consideration is given to the house design, land form and house orientation as they relate to space organization.
Private area(s) are usually a part of the living area. A private area may be for reading and meditation as an extension of the master bedroom or it could be an area for small group conversation as an extension of the living room. A private area may be placed close to the house or in an isolated corner of the landscape.
Space and equipment for children's play are required in many landscapes. The play area should be an integral part of the landscape. Enclosure of this area may be required, based on age of children, size of area and activities on adjacent property. The permanency of the play area depends upon the ages of the children and family plans. If the children are 8 to 10 and no other children are expected, the area may be temporary and plans for future modification should be considered.
The children's play area may require some open space. This space may also serve for adult entertaining. Planning for multi-use space of this sort can lead to high space utilization and efficiency.
It is often important to provide a degree of privacy in the living area. Fencing, walls or hedge plants used for this purpose can also block views, enhance views and direct or block prevailing winds.
Structural features in the living area could include a patio, deck, terrace, water feature and/or garden and workshop. A patio used as an extension of the family room should be at least 12 feet by 15 feet. The selection of surface material is based on land slope, expected use rate, style of the house and the amount of funds available. Raised wooden decks are suited for sloping land and are cooled by air flow beneath them. Brick and sand is less expensive than brick and cement and if installed properly can be quite durable. Stained concrete and concrete with an aggregate surface are also alternative surfaces for patios.
A water feature could be a swimming pool, spa, or a garden pond. Moving water creates a secure, relaxed feeling in a private area and is often overlooked for this use. Expense of these items is often the limiting factor.
The designer should be concerned with traffic flow and circulation in the living area. Each unit in this area should be a part of the whole and contribute to the overall circulation pattern. This is especially true in the areas where entertaining is planned. Areas of limited access, like service areas, may not be a part of this circulation pattern. Circulation refers to the movement of people's eyes and then their bodies through a specific pattern in the landscape. For example, a quiet sitting area located in the back corner of the lot is hidden from view of the patio. Proper bed arrangement and plant selection will lead the observer to one focalization point in the landscape. The person, now located at that point sees another focalization point and so on until the sitting area is seen. This systematic method moves people from one point to another until the desired circulation and traffic flow patterns are created. Most popular theme parks are working examples of planned traffic flow by this technique.
When it comes to designing a beautiful, practical, and functional landscape for your entire property there is much to consider, and much to know. If the thought of doing it yourself is a bit too overwhelming, you can always consult with a reputable landscape designer.