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Outdoor space is an increasingly precious commodity. More and more housing developments, office parks, shopping centers, and highway construction sites gobble up everything from large open spaces to old, tree-lined neighborhoods. Private, outdoor residential spaces are perhaps the most vulnerable as larger single faruidy homes occupy smaller lots and ubiquitous townhouse developments deliver postage-stamp sized gardens to their new owners or tenants. Urban dwellers, long accustomed to such space deprivation, now have company in the suburbs.
In some ways, this might be viewed as a blessing and an opportunity. Few people have the luxury of sufficient time or money to maintain large gardens or carefully manicured lawns. Many prefer smaller, more intimate spaces. Some who could afford to do otherwise instead reduce large open spaces into several smaller pocket gardens, each with a distinct function. Properly done, these gardens can successfully blur the distinction between the interior and exterior of the house and expand living space dramatically.
The projects presented in this bookby professional landscape architects and landscape designers-view these space-restricted environments as opportunities to create gardens that are both visually stunning and highly functional. Through careful and thoughtful design, these gardens can fulfill the requirements of the most demanding clients and complex programs. Many small gardens have just one function such as an intimate dining space or outdoor shower. Others have multiple uses, from outdoor recreation and entertaining to providing a spot for quiet contemplation. All employ an astounding array of materials and designfeatures that offer big ideas for transforming a small plot into a grand outdoor space.
When confronted with small outdoor spaces, landscape architects often create multifunctional "rooms". For their own garden (Courtyard Dining), landscape architects Kristina Floor and Christopher Brown designed a series of interconnected patios beside the house. Each functions according to the purpose of its adjacent interior room. There is a dining patio off the kitchen and the master bath opens onto an outdoor shower room. Taking a different design approach, Stephen Stimson, and Jill Neubauer (Bungalow Garden) used hedges, board fences, vine scrims, and tree rows to transform a narrow lot into small outdoor rooms for play, rest, and work.
Prized for its reflective qualities and gentle sounds, water plays a key role in many gardens in this book. Samuel Williamson (South-Facing Terrace and Parallel Paths), uses runnels to connect the garden to the house. Oehme, van Sweden (Fountain Dreams) employ a custom-designed granite fountain to create a focal point midway in a long, narrow townhouse garden. A broad sheet of smooth or cascading water can add depth and sound to a garden. Sheela Lampietti (Carpet of Moss) collaborated in the design of a water wall adjoining a terrace. The wall is constructed of wood-fired tiles and angled out at the bottom to slow the flow of water from the top. The thin sheet of water falling over the tiles visually animates a quiet corner of the garden and adds a pleasing murmur. For Inner Courtyards Ron Herman created a rimless pool at one end of an enclosed rectangular courtyard. Water spills over the edge in a perfect reflective sheet. When observed from the living room the sheer sheet of water adds sparkle and depth to the view. Water is also a dominant feature in Hilltop Cottage where two fishponds serve to anchor the garden.
A large pool may dominate a small site, but a swimming pool or lap pool can be accommodated in a relatively small garden. Samuel Williamson (Pool Garden) encountered an existing swimming pool occupying the major portion of a tight 30-by-37-foot site surrounded by low stone walls. Through the judicious use of color-coordinated paving and plantings, he successfully integrated this large pool into the remaining garden area. Landscape architect Raymond jungles gave his pool (Tropical Retreat) the look of a lagoon by painting its surface with gray Diamond Brite. Artist Debra Yates added a colorful fountain /mural. In each case, the swimming pool was transformed into a major design formed feature within the garden. Oehme, van Sweden (Diagonal Lines) took the opposite approach to handling a lap pool by completely concealing it from view. The landscape architects placed the pool to one side of the garden and screened it with a grove of river birch trees.
Enticing outdoor showers for bathing can add the theme of water to a garden. In most cases, these are placed next to the main house and are accessible from an indoor bathroom. One exception is an outdoor shower designed by Mia Lehrer (Garden Spaces). It stands apart from the house and is reached via a stone path. The design of the shower is unusual; it is framed by vine-covered wire mesh walls and resembles a piece of organic sculpture on the lawn. Plants also play an important role in the outdoor shower created by Floor & Associates (Garden Showers). Adjacent to the master bath, the shower is lushly planted with moisture tolerant plants including peppermint and spearmint, which grow between the pavers. They release refreshing fragrances when brushed against while showering.
Nowhere is space more limited and gardens more prized than in Japan so it is not surprising that Japanese garden design techniques often appear in small gardens elsewhere. Ron Herman, who studied landscape design in Japan for many years, was inspired by a Zen temple garden in Kyoto when he created the checkerboard pattern of moss and stone for Inner Courtyards. There is a Japanese spirit to Fountain Dreams where a dry stream of rock is imbedded into a terrace. For the small urban garden featured in Carpet of Moss, the designers used a spare and carefully controlled pallet of plants, stones, water, and ornaments to evoke the spirit and esthetics of a traditional Japanese garden while adding a few stern twists. Pamela Burton freely admits that the Japanese tsuborw, or "jar garden" inspired her design for Back Garden.