Architecture in the garden: making connections to improve San Diego landscape design

San Diego landscape design

Learn about the connection between home and garden for insight into effective San Diego landscape design. Photo Credit: Can72,

By Paul Benton

Here in San Diego, landscape design offers architects a wealth of opportunity. We are blessed with a great variety of plant materials, and challenged with demanding needs that often result in fascinating and innovative garden settings. Of particular interest to me, as an architect, is the way in which homes and garden designs intersect. Read on to find out how connections between structure and landscape can result in stunning, sustainable and synchronized spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Where the home leads to the garden

To begin, let us consider the way in which different vantage points within the home allow us to view the garden. First there is the living or family room that opens directly to the outdoors, and then another room on the second floor – be it a bedroom or sitting room – that overlooks the garden view. These are two distinct views, each of which lends the viewer a different experience. Furthermore, the prospect change throughout the day, and alters further with the changing of the seasons.

The view from above, with the colors and plants at your feet, is a literal overview: one can see the vegetation and pathways stretching into the distance, and easily comprehend the pattern laid out below. Accent and variety are provided by the colors of the flowers and re-growth of leaves through the seasons. But looking down from above, it helps to also have a view of the garden entrance – maybe an arch or a stair – in order to comprehend the entirety of the design and enter the space, first with our minds, and eventually with our bodies as well. Finally, we need to see a connection between the garden and the home: a bit of roof or an eave or a trellis that extends from the home into the garden, a segue from one space to the other.

Next, consider the view from downstairs. Now the garden is at eye-level, the cover of the trees is overhead, and one can see the shade and cool spots where the garden is working its magic. Just as important are the trunks and branches of the trees that support this effect, a collection of vertical and spreading elements that come together to create the space for us.

From this ground-level perspective, the man-made entry to the garden is also overhead. The trellis extends above us, offering a greeting from the house to the garden, blending in with natural, rigid materials like wood or steel, doing it’s best to imitate the branches and yet, at the same time, offering a contrast that simultaneously links and distinguishes home and garden from one another. Imagine yourself into this space, and end our virtual tour with a walk out of the home and into the garden. The trellis and eaves provide a transition, a bit of shade to protect you as well as a frame and a structure that give way to the great outdoors.

A portal into the natural world

This is just one example of how the garden and the home might come together. But wherever and however this is accomplished, it is important that there be a thoughtful, mindful transition in place. Our gardens protect us and tell us about the seasons, the weather, and our place in the world. Good architecture in the garden is our way of entering that world.

To learn more about San Diego landscape architecture and design, or to discuss a remodel or building project, contact us at Alcorn & Benton Architects today for an individualized consultation. Our team is dedicated to creating the best, most beautiful and sustainable structures and landscape designs in San Diego. Find out more about us and our work at

Did you know? Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural philosophy was rooted in his appreciation of the way that plants grow, and the expansive views of the plains and farms he experienced in the Midwest. Wright believed that an architect can and should design architectural elements and buildings that mimic the organic processes of nature. The best examples of this in his own work include his trademark stained-glass windows and placement of roofs and entrances within the building. He worked with straight lines and sharp angles, and then composed them so that the final result would be made up of many repeated elements with a variety and pattern that follows nature in its deceptive simplicity.

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Posted by Social Media Staff on May 18, 2013. Filed under Columns, Paul Benton, Sponsored Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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