Border Landscape Design – Flikr / Blake Danger Bentley

Landscaping the Margins or the Center?

When it comes to landscape design in outdoor space, it can be tempting to cluster all of the interventions around the periphery of the space. This kind of spatial logic allows for the most uninterrupted surface area for green lawns and patios.

While this approach is great for preserving large swathes of green for kids, pets, and barbecues, it can paradoxically make your outdoor space seem smaller. So while it may seem counter-intuitive, one way to make your outdoor assets seem larger and more lush is to subdivide your yard into smaller sections, like “outdoor rooms.” This works in much the same way as mathematical illusions that make a geometrical object appear larger using additional lines or subdivisions.

Incorporating Subdivisions Into Your Landscape Design

Using Tall Elements to Subdivide Space – Flikr / stonescape

One of the best ways to create borders is through the use of height. Incorporating trees, hedges, tall grasses, walls, screens, fences, trellises, and other hard and soft landscape design features that obscure views of other part of the garden can create cozy nooks that nonetheless feel like a part of something much larger.

Winding paths between subdivided spaces in the garden will end up being longer than straight ones, so creating distinct zones in a landscape design can also necessitate longer strolls around the garden, a time factor which also plays into creating the perception of more space.

Another way to effectively subdivide a landscape design is through the use of texture. Using a variety of different surfaces, be they stone, cement, brick, mulch, grass, or exposed soil, creates a visually “busy” effect.

Multiple Textures in a Backyard-in-Progress – Flikr / jalexartis

This effect in turn makes it appear as though there is a much larger area.

Though landscape designs that work with the peripheries or the center of a space both have their merits, the clear advantage of working with a subdivided landscape design is in making a space appear larger, while paradoxically creating a number of cozy corners.