Some people are interested largely in areas for outdoor play and sports, while keeping in mind possible conversion of such areas later on to more passive uses as the children grow up and leave home.
The assortment of possible recreational facilities includes swimming pools; archery ranges; bathhouses; bowling and putting greens; courts for tennis, badminton, volleyball, and basketball; shuffleboard; quoits; croquet; paddle tennis; and clock golf.
Small children require a sunny play area near the house, near a covered porch, and within view of the kitchen. This area may be combined with a drying yard; or it can be a small grassy plot, fenced in and containing a sandbox, a swing, a seesaw, climbing apparatus, and a space for playing croquet. Such an area might be used in later years for teenage games.
While grassy surfaces are generally best for small children’s play, there should be smooth, hard spaces upon which they can ride tricycles and scooters and roller skates. Also included might be a wading pool, so located that, when the children are grown, it could serve as a reflecting pool.
A playhouse for children has all sorts of possibilities, both in its architecture and inside equipment. A large tree may suggest the construction of a tree house.
The service area complements the activities of the house. It should include space for clothes drying, for the growing of fruits, vegetables, and herbs or cut flowers, for the storage of tools, implements, summer furniture, and firewood, and for the disposal of garbage. The walking distance between the house and service areas should be short. The service yard, since it is near the area where the mother will be working, is sometimes used as a play yard for small children.
The kitchen garden is often found in the service area. Although its plant arrangement is, of course, primarily functional, it may also be aesthetic.
Enclosures are useful for defining the various areas, for hiding views of service areas, and providing protection, shelter, and background. Enclosures may be formed of structural or living materials. In properties that are greatly restricted, walls, screens, and treillage will be particularly useful. There may be pergolas or creeper-covered bowers, or permanent structures with roofs and openings equipped perhaps with sliding screens. Shrubbery or fences properly planned will insure the required privacy.
People need places to sit in outdoor living areas; they need tables for food, drinks, and reading matter They need outdoor cooking facilities, either permanent or movable.
Permanent seats should be carefully placed in relation to the landscape design, whether against a wall or hedge or in the open. They are usually placed to take advantage f a view, and an adequate stretch of paving is provided beneath and in front of them. They should be capable of withstanding all sorts of weather.
Outdoor fireplaces or barbecue stands are important garden furnishings. They may serve as a focal point on a patio or terrace, and should be accessible to the kitchen. They may be set in the midst of grass or paving. They may take the form of fire pits or low-level or counter-high grills, with or without chimneys, sheltered or unsheltered.
Garden sculpture should be used sparingly, and should be carefully placed. It should be well conceived and executed. It may include urns, vases, sundials, statues of humans or animals, or imaginative forms.
A birdbath is a charming garden feature, with its attraction for birds and the life, color, and song they add to the scene. It should be placed in a favorable position for watching birds. It should be set on a high pedestal that is well away from plantings or other hideaways for cats and other predatory animals. The pedestal should be given a firm foundation and should have a direct pipe connection with the water supply.
Sundials depend a great deal for their success on proper placement. They may be located centrally or in a secluded nook, preferably with a substantial foundation. A sundial of simple outline can be quite effective.