Out­door spa­ces that evolve as our fam­i­lies ma­ture

One of T.O.’s top land­scape ar­chi­tects, Janet Rosen­berg, on tack­ling the chal­lenges of city gar­dens

Richmond Hill Post - - Homes | Gardens -

Our prop­er­ties have be­come much more valu­able to us with the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of our city.

We ask our gar­dens and land­scapes to en­hance our busy life­styles, and of­ten what we need and want from our gar­dens shifts over the course of our lives.

The out­door space that served our needs when we were a young fam­ily of­ten no longer serves our needs once we are empty nesters. So spa­ces, like gar­dens, should be flex­i­ble, de­signed to evolve as your life and fam­ily changes.

Through my work on res­i­den­tial gar­dens through­out the city, I fo­cus on care­ful planning, anal­y­sis and de­sign to es­tab­lish a frame­work for our clients’ prop­er­ties that al­lows their gar­dens to ma­ture, grow and evolve over time, be­com­ing a crit­i­cal and func­tional part of their home.

In our in­creas­ingly dense city and neigh­bour­hoods, every square foot counts, and the out­door as­pect of your property can be de­signed to en­hance your use day and night and through all four sea­sons.

Three pop­u­lar ways to achieve this type of func­tional garden are through cre­ative uses of sec­ondary struc­tures, de­sign-savvy garden fur­ni­ture and out­door living spa­ces.

Sec­ondary struc­tures no longer serve as just a place to store your equip­ment and tools. They are now clev­erly con­verted into art stu­dios, re­treat spa­ces and deluxe lounge and entertaini­ng ar­eas that extend our use of our gar­dens.

Garden fur­ni­ture now comes in a vast range of op­tions, of­fer­ing a myr­iad of dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions to al­low for more com­fort­able and flex­i­ble entertaini­ng and re­lax­ation.

Out­door kitchens, fire­places and pavil­ions have truly al­lowed the in­te­rior of our homes to seam­lessly flow out to func­tional out­door spa­ces, be­com­ing valu­able ex­ten­sions of our homes.

As a land­scape ar­chi­tect in Toronto, per­haps one of my great­est chal­lenges to­day is de­sign­ing spa­ces that are re­silient and can re­spond to ex­treme weather events, such as pe­ri­ods of drought or flood­ing.

Land­scapes are living and breath­ing sys­tems that suf­fer un­der duress and can ul­ti­mately fail in ad­verse con­di­tions.

To ad­dress this chal­lenge, we in­te­grate green and blue in­fra­struc­ture strate­gies that can help to in­crease the re­silience and sus­tain­abil­ity of our land­scapes with­out com­pro­mis­ing the es­thetic in­tegrity of the de­sign.

We try to weave this in­fra­struc­ture seam­lessly and holis­ti­cally through our gar­dens with a fo­cus on re­duc­ing over­all wa­ter re­quire­ments, cap­tur­ing and uti­liz­ing rain­wa­ter and re­duc­ing ur­ban heat.

Spe­cific tech­niques you can use in­clude a pal­ette of hardy, na­tive and drought-tol­er­ant plants; in­stalling rain gar­dens, bioswales and cis­terns for wa­ter stor­age; us­ing green roofs and per­me­able paving; en­cour­ag­ing di­verse tree canopy growth; and us­ing paving ma­te­ri­als with a high so­lar re­flectance in­dex (SRI) value.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of these tech­niques will re­sult in habi­tat cre­ation, pol­li­na­tion and storm wa­ter man­age­ment and will al­low your garden to be re­silient to ex­treme weather events that are all too com­mon in our city.

A garden that can bounce back from these types of ex­treme events re­quires less main­te­nance due to dam­age and fail­ure.

An out­door living space in a York Mills garden com­plete with a fire­place


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