Landscape Connections

A landscape is influenced not only by open space and enclosure, but also by the way viewers enter and pass from one area to another. In planning a landscape, keep in mind that easy flow between areas is central to enjoying a garden.

Consider the close connection between a tool shed and a vegetable garden, a vegetable garden and a kitchen, a barbecue area and a family room, a hot tub and a lanai or master bedroom. The overall pattern of connections in the landscape constitutes the garden’s circulation: how a viewer enters and moves around and through the landscape, whether by paths, patios, boardwalks, stepping-stones, decks, or steps.

When outlining a landscape on paper, first visualize and sketch ways in which the areas in a yard can relate to each other. At this point in the survey of a site, it is necessary to think only about the general character of the garden spaces and their uses. Various arrangements result in different circulation patterns. For example, the dining room can be opened up by adding French doors that provide access to the patio and outdoor cooking area. Making bubble plans allows you to see a previously unnoticed connection.

Circulation can sometimes be thought out in advance, but actual use is the best way to determine where connections should be placed. It is preferable to allow connections to develop, then add paths based on where the ground is most worn. The paths at one junior college were made in this way; after the first few months of student traffic, the most popular lines of travel became obvious.

The shortest route between two places is usually the best one, if utility is the primary consideration. A landscape that is designed with aesthetics in mind may eliminate the most evident paths, however, and let paths wander by certain trees, around garden sculpture, or past revealing views.


A residential landscape should contain a general indication of where a path leads — to the front door, garage, tool shed, and so forth. Excitement, even mystery, can be generated if the direction is handled in a less than straightforward manner. A path can head off at right angles to the front door before returning to its more obvious destination. Landscape architect Lockwood de Forest ordered the sequence of views from the entry driveway of a large estate by alternately revealing the house across sweeping lawns and concealing it behind masses of shrubs, occasionally showing off a specimen tree or rustic bench nestled in a hedgerow.