Houses vary in size, shape, plan, and construction materials. Houses with but one storey cover more land than do houses with two stories and an equal number of rooms, with the resulting advantage of closeness to the ground of all rooms. Some houses are simple, boxlike structures; others ramble irregularly and have numerous corners, angles, and curves. Some houses have no overhangs, while others have wide overhangs. All these features have a direct bearing on the layout of the house grounds.
Houses, moreover, differ widely in the number, placement, and outlook of windows and doors. The floor level may be even with, below, or above ground level. These details establish a variety of relationships with the outdoors.
Properties vary in size, in shape, and in the presence or absence of trees, boulders, structures, or other existing features that may need to be recognized, preserved, or removed. And of obvious importance is the local climate, which determines the nature of the planting and the extent to which the outdoors can be used.
The layout of the domestic properties must not only take into account physical and climatic characteristics, but must respect as well family needs and attitudes and such economic considerations as initial outlay and the cost of maintenance.
The outdoors, like the house, should be designed for people, not for plants and garden furniture. A layout depends upon the size and makeup of the family, and on the needs and preferences of elders and children. Some members of a family may be fond of gardening; others may devote themselves to outdoor play and sports. Still others may enjoy the pleasures and comforts of outdoor living and beautiful surroundings.
The areas decided upon for living and service should be clearly defined by the landscaping. A close relationship must be established between the house and these outdoor areas.
Placing the House
Today, with the emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, it is difficult to think “house” without also thinking “garden.” The fact that the house has been shrinking in size has made the planned garden important as a factor in increasing the living area, actually and visually.
The house should be placed so as to allow for the most effective use of the grounds. The front yard should be of such proportions as to conform to local set-back requirements, and should provide a suitable setting for the house. It should include access by walk and drive to the house and garage, and a space for parking.
The best arrangement of house and grounds is the one that offers the maximum amount of ground for the garden area. For the typical city lot, longer than it is wide, usually more space is released for garden use if the house is placed to the front and to one side. Space at the front of the house generally has little family use since it is open to public view. Such space, however, can be given privacy by the use of screens and planting. In placing the house, orientation should always be considered; in most sections of the country the afternoon sun shining into the major glass areas is unacceptable.
Such glass areas are usually oriented to the east. And in all cases, the outdoor areas should be adjacent and accessible to those indoor areas which they are to extend and supplement. When properly planned, the indoor and outdoor areas will often appear to be one space.