Topic: Outdoor Living Ideas

Date Posted: Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Plan the enrichment of the great outdoors

Plan the enrichment of the great outdoors


Eddie Seagle Special to The Observer

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop people who don't want it badly enough.”  Randy Pausch, Last Lecture.

Now is a good time to think about and plan for enrichment items in your landscape. As you develop your landscape plans for the spring and throughout the year, consider designing and constructing enrichment items which will enhance the aesthetics of the property and bring personal enjoyment to your family and guests. This is your great outdoors; therefore make the best of it while considering cost, sustainability effects, and environmental-friendliness.

Enrichment items play an important role in completing the landscape in function, aesthetics, form and value. To better understand the role of enrichment items, picture the indoor rooms of your home and visualize the ceilings, walls and floors. These rooms are not ready for use until they are furnished in a manner conducive to your descriptions and specifications of needs and wants. To make them functional and personal, they require furniture, lightning, pictures, music, pets, and so forth in a layout that minimizes clutter and confusion.

The outdoor rooms operate under the same concepts and have similar needs to make them personal and functional.  Enrichment items are components of the outdoor room that are not essential to the formation of the walls, ceiling and floor but are materials included in their spaces offering positive value that fulfills a purpose without smorgasbord, clutter and confusion.

Enrichment items in the landscape can be tangible (touchable) or intangible (sensed but untouchable), and natural (of nature) or fabricated (synthetic or manufactured). Examples of natural tangible items are rocks or boulders, water in a stream or fountain, or a simple flower. Examples of intangible natural items include the sound created when the wind blows through the trees, the sounds of water flow or fall, song birds singing, and the fragrance of flowers in bloom.

Examples of fabricated tangible items are outdoor furniture, benches, gazebos, pergolas, hammocks, etc. Examples of intangible fabricated items are the sounds made by wind blowing the chimes, the sounds of church bells ringing in the distance, the viewing of martin gourds high upon a pole, etc.

The inability to touch certain enrichment items does not lessen their value in the landscape. Intangible enrichment items are pleasing to the senses of hearing, smell and taste. Also, if a member of your family has any physical impairment, these items can play a significant role in how they enjoy the great outdoors.

Care must be exercised in the design process to minimize over-use of enrichment items. And, the quality of the enrichment items must be considered to ascertain and maintain a desirable and appealing space. For example, outdoor furniture can exhibit characteristics from heavy and unwieldy to cheap and tasteless, with many desirable features in between. Choosing the right characteristics such as size, shape, color, construction material, appearance, weight, complementation, etc. in your outdoor furniture will help determine the effectiveness and user-friendliness of these enrichment items. If the enrichment item does not add value and complementation to the site then it must be omitted or replaced with a choice that will offer such enhancement.

It is possible to use too many enrichment items and this usually happens quite frequently. When this happens, the effect is described as clutter and smorgasbord with such design principles as simplicity and unity falling victim to excess usage and poor planning.

Night lighting offers great landscape benefits in the after-hours from entertaining to individual enjoyment. We have come a long way from the basic flood lights affording glare and blinding to modern lighting strategies offering softer and more attractive results. The ground solar lights are an ingenious approach to guiding traffic flow throughout the property or space.

Types of night lighting include walk lights (safety and decoration), silhouette lighting (outlines plants when placed behind them), shadow lighting (light placed in front which casts a shadow against the wall behind), down lighting (fixed high in a tree and cast patterns of light and leaf shadows on the ground), and up lighting (fixed on surface and cast pattern of light and form upwardly). When planned properly, these types of lighting can be most pleasing in your night-scapes.

Two lighting precautions must be acknowledged and followed. First, position the lights so as they do not shine into the landscape user’s eyes which would be a safety hazard and inconvenience to the space guest.  Secondly, be sure that the level of brightness outside the house equals the level inside the house. Otherwise, the separating glass door or window serves as a mirror and reflects, thus minimizing the value of the lighting effect to the inside viewer looking out into the night-scape.

Enrichment items serve your spaces quite effectively and are chosen based upon your individual wants and needs. Determination of how you want to use your space will be the guide to what you need to select to fulfill your dreams and provide an outdoor room that is both pleasing and enjoyable.

Structures such as hot tubs, gazebos, pergolas, trellis’s, planters, benches, hammocks, chairs, swings, etc. can be most effective in your spaces.  Also, statues, bird houses, bird baths, bird feeders, squirrel feeders, fountains, urns, etc. can be enjoyed too.

Chimes effectively positioned on the site offer great acoustics as the wind blows through them. If you have an outdoor sitting or hammock area that offers an inviting atmosphere, you might consider wiring it for music from your indoor electronic systems. Be sure the speakers are protected from the weather. You definitely want to insure that your hot tub area is musically- enriched.

Continue to keep sustainability and environmental-friendliness at the forefront as you plan the enrichment of your great outdoors. Be selective in your choices and limit the volume of items to be included so that clutter does not become an issue. And, as always, remember to feed and water the birds in your neighborhood and protect your pets and plants from cold weather.

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