With any new landscaping project, I cast my mind back to the things I loved about the garden I grew up in.
We had a wonderful vegetable garden, and a great spot to sit and read a book under the shade of the trees. We had space for the BBQ and family gatherings, and for kids to play outdoors. There were display gardens, with roses and seasonal plants, and open lawn areas. Our swimming pool was probably the best part – it gets hot in Ontario! And, of course, space for the family pets.
With residential landscape architecture, we want to create a sense of place, a sense of entry, and space to gather and meet. We set the tone with water features, colour, and quality materials to make coming home a welcoming and memorable experience.
Landscape creates the stage where people can interact outside of their homes.
We intentionally design spaces for people to meet and get to know their neighbours – whether it’s a place to say hello at the lobby entry, shared dining spaces, seating areas, or social interaction spaces where our kids can play and connect.
For Pioneer, an upcoming townhouse community by Townline, we’re including a pathway system connecting into the elaborate trail system on Burke Mountain. It’s also designed to link the project and its residents together, bringing people to the clubhouse and pool that form the gathering point for the community, with an outdoor kitchen and lounge. At The Holland in Surrey City Centre, we designed a communal kids’ play area with open lawns, plus an outdoor fireside lounge. And at Hudson Place One in downtown Victoria, we created a fantastic off-leash dog run with play structures and fire hydrants! It’s shared between three buildings and offers a great way to meet all your neighbours – including those with four legs.
In high-rise projects, supporting that sense of community is even more important.
Outdoor spaces need to be more generous and varied, and need to connect to indoor amenities. We need to create spaces that appeal to different ages and interests, and allow for multiple uses.
We ensure residents stay connected to nature by planting visually appealing gardens wherever feasible. From ground-
level entry to patios, rooftops and amenity spaces, we incorporate greenery into as many areas as reasonable. Creating opportunities for gardening can also be a great way to help people living in urban spaces connect to their environment.
We plant for biodiversity, sustainability, water conservation, and wildlife habitat, and look for ways to reuse water for irrigation. We take care to include a wide variety of plants, including edible plants, drought-tolerant plants and pollinators. It’s also very important to ensure adequate soil volumes to maximize growth potential.
Good landscape architecture ultimately comes down to the end user.
We look at what the site is telling us, and consider the characteristics of the neighbourhood. Then, we create outdoor spaces that act as meaningful extensions of the home, adding interest and variety to each day; and creating interaction, familiarity, and community.