Hardscape features combine with plantings to create outdoor rooms, places that serve particular functions similar to indoor rooms: eating, entertaining, working, and so on. The idea of the outdoor room goes far back in the history of landscape design. Cro-Magnon caveowners in the Paleolithic Era had spacious outdoor rooms that they used for eviscerating woolly mammoths and entertaining visiting troglodytes. Over time, the idea evolved into the modern outdoor room equipped with 50 square feet of barbecue-grill surface, two convection ovens, a big-screen television set, spa, fitness center, and maid's quarters. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the sensible, sustainable outdoor room of the future. You can see a plan for an outdoor room in Figure 12-4.
Many outdoor rooms are more versatile than indoor ones, combining functions that you'd never pair up indoors, such as providing a place for lounge chairs, bouncing light into the house, and soaking up rainwater. Permaculture, a methodology of holistic design, calls this multiple-use approach stacking functions, and it's a hallmark of sustainable design.
Typical outdoor room plan.
Keeping the cars happy: Outdoor parking
The automobile is with us for the foreseeable future, and both yours and those of your guests need to be parked somewhere. Ponder the possibilities of making parking space smaller and more environmentally friendly. Here are some tips:
✓ Make your driveway permeable. Runoff from driveways causes flooding and pollution. Use pervious concrete or pervious paver blocks so that water soaks in and is used by plants rather than going into the gutter.
Another cool option made of a honeycomb of recycled plastic panels is a vegetated paving system. They make your driveway look totally rad. Check out Chapter 14 to see how the system is put together.
✓ Pave with mulch or gravel. Both are permeable and much lower-impact than concrete or other formal paving. Just keep in mind that gravel attracts weeds.
Like indoor rooms, outdoor ones are made up of floors, walls, ceilings, and paths. But outdoor rooms usually are less rigidly defined than those in the house, with partially transparent walls, less privacy, and few or no doors to subdivide the space emphatically.
Materials used for outdoor rooms vary widely and can be quite different from materials that are used for indoor rooms. However, some continuity can be achieved by taking weather-tolerant indoor flooring or wall elements outside.
The ideal outdoor room should feel like part of nature. An overabundance of manmade structures and appliances is not only environmentally unsound, but it also creates a setting that's too much like the indoors. The whole appeal of having landscaping in the first place is to be closer to natural things, so why muck it up with a lot of hardware? After all, the Garden of Eden didn't have a spa and an eight-burner barbecue.
Many outdoor rooms serve the same functions as indoor ones. A patio is a type of outdoor living/dining room combination. A lawn is like a playroom. A veggie garden or orchard is the pantry. A potting bench is the garden's workbench. The following sections offer the lowdown on some of the most common outdoor rooms.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.