Structuring your home environment for outdoor use is a wish list that never seems to end, says Mary Palmer Dargan in her book Lifelong Landscape Design. The book is filled with photos of landscapes that illustrate components of lifelong designs that connect with nature; encompass a home; and promote healthy living by providing mobility, social interaction and places to sustain the body and soul. Here are some of her outdoor ideas to encourage and promote social interaction in numerous settings:
Arbor: This half-roof/half-sky place is delightfully romantic. Arbors also provide shade and transitional overhead enclosure as one steps from house to terrace or garden.
Bench Niche: A place to sit is a rare commodity. Often, a bench or chair gets left out of the garden because of a lack of understanding concerning its placement. Place benches in a semiprivate space or in a nook with views outward. Benches work best if surrounded by soft and lush plant materials full of color and fragrance.
Furniture: Every functional outdoor space needs furniture. It allows people to sit and enjoy the beauty around them and encourages social interaction and interaction with the great outdoors. Furniture is a great way to accessorize your garden, deck or terrace.
Grills: A grill is a must-have for any outdoor-oriented family or individual. It creates social spaces and areas for interaction. Whether you have a small charcoal grill or a large gas grill built into an outdoor kitchen, it is sure to be enjoyed by all.
Fire Pit: Do you long for roasted marshmallows? A fire pit may be for you. Some are deep in the ground and fired by propane; others are wood fired.
Fireplaces: An outdoor fireplace acts as a great hub or focal point. People will naturally be drawn to its beauty and warmth, no matter the size. Whether it is made of brick or stone, a fireplace is always a beautiful and functional addition to your outdoor space.
Loggia: Commonly seen in Italian architecture, loggias are corridors at ground level (or higher) that are connected to the façade of a building and are open on the other side, which allows for air circulation.
Tapis Vert: A tapis vert is an unbroken expanse of lawn and is used as a major element in the landscape.
Retreat/Pavilion: Retreats and pavilions are the quintessential destination. A retreat is out of visual connection with other parts of the property. It offers intimacy and is often associated with entertainment and dining. The outdoor kitchen is a popular retreat and includes extended surfaces for cooking and many places for seating. Access to a pavilion is essential. Wide paths that accommodate a golf cart or large-wheeled cart improve the functional aspects of pavilions to service parties.
Terrace: A flat area, integral with the earth and surfaced with stone, brick, gravel or grass, this is the most adaptable type of space. Terraces can extend to provide seating or dining for varying sizes and can interlock with garden space between.
Garden tip from Lifelong Landscape Design by Mary Palmer Dargan, ASLA (Gibbs Smith, 2012)