The Lay of the Land

To make the best use of your timber home’s prop­erty, start with our easy 3-step process.

Timber Home Living - - Contents -

To make the best use of your timber home’s prop­erty, start with our easy 3-step process.

Much like build­ing your dream timber home, de­vel­op­ing a good land­scape de­sign takes a well-thought-out plan. Start by iden­ti­fy­ing the ex­ist­ing fea­tures of your prop­erty that you want to keep. Then, de­ter­mine what you want to add to en­hance what’s al­ready there. Next, based on the to­pog­ra­phy, mock up a rudi­men­tary plan, high­light­ing the three main ar­eas every yard should have: public space, a ser­vice area and pri­vate liv­ing space. With th­ese ideas in place, you can fi­nal­ize the plan and get to the fun part — get­ting your hands dirty.

1. Cre­ate Your Wish List.

This starts with the fea­tures of your land­scape that you want to keep. Are there groups of old-growth trees you want to re­main stand­ing or a nat­u­ral wet­land that could be­come a spec­tac­u­lar pond? Maybe there’s a patch of wild grasses or wild­flow­ers you want to stay un­touched. Iso­late them first and then work around them.

From here, it’s time to make a list of how you’d like to en­hance th­ese fea­tures. This could in­clude any­thing from adding a stone pa­tio or wood deck; a sports court; a veg­etable or flower gar­den; a wa­ter fea­ture, such as a koi pond, pool or water­fall; an out­build­ing, like a guest­house or a she-shed; or a sim­ple fire pit for gath­er­ings of friends and fam­ily on those starry sum­mer nights.

With your ideas firmly mapped out, it’s time to move on to Step 2.

2. Make a Plan.

If you have an of­fi­cial plat (a map of your land), it’s time to bring it out. If you don’t, you can draw one, your­self — just re­mem­ber that the prop­erty lines may not be to scale.

Once you have your out­line, start fill­ing in the blanks. If your timber home is al­ready built, draw its foot­print on the map. If you haven’t built yet, now is the time to find the best spot for it. Then mark off the util­i­ties (both above and be­low ground) and the ex­ist­ing fo­liage you’re keep­ing, as well as other prop­erty fea­tures, like boul­ders, creeks or slopes. Walk your prop­erty as you do this and take mea­sure­ments so you can be as ac­cu­rate with the pro­por­tions as pos­si­ble.

Next de­cide the re­la­tion­ship be­tween those three fun­da­men­tals — public, ser­vice and pri­vate ar­eas — and your timber home. Mark them off with sim­ple cir­cles or “bub­bles.”

Now you’re ready to add the de­tails in Step 3.

3. Draw the Fi­nal Draft.

It’s time to add the fea­tures you need and want to max­i­mize your en­joy­ment of your prop­erty. If you’ve cre­ated your plan the old-fash­ioned way, with pa­per and pen­cil, an easy way to do this is to place a sheet of trac­ing pa­per over your ba­sic plan and draw in the fea­tures so you can make re­vi­sions eas­ily. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy and are us­ing the com­puter to set your plan in place, the “undo” but­ton can be your best friend. Ei­ther way, you have the abil­ity to take the items from your wish list and move them around on your plan to achieve the best pos­si­ble lay­out.

Draw the de­tails for each of your three main zones. For the public area, the land­scap­ing should blend the house with its sur­round­ings so it ap­pears invit­ing and nat­u­ral. You may want to use trees to frame the house and mulch beds to break up large swaths of open lawn. Re­mem­ber: Your home’s en­trance should be the fo­cal point, so the land­scape should lead visi­tors’ eyes to­ward the front door. You can achieve this with both in-ground shrubs and flow­ers, as well as pot­ted plants.

Be­cause the ser­vice area isn’t meant to be seen, screens are vi­tal. Op­tions in­clude any­thing from wood fenc­ing to us­ing tall shrub­bery to shield the area. Just make sure to po­si­tion them so that the ser­vice space is hid­den from both the public and pri­vate ar­eas of your yard.

The pri­vate liv­ing space is gen­er­ally lo­cated be­hind your house. For you to want to spend time there, it needs to be func­tional, com­fort­able and at­trac­tive. Achiev­ing this is based en­tirely on your per­sonal pref­er­ence — just make sure to in­cor­po­rate pro­tec­tion from the harsh sum­mer sun with ei­ther large shade trees, a per­gola or a cov­ered area, like a pav­il­ion or an awning over your pa­tio.

By giv­ing your land­scape as much thought as the house, you’ll ex­tend your liv­ing area out­doors and am­plify your to­tal en­joy­ment of your timber home.


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