When thinking about your landscape, shapes matter a lot, especially when the lot itself has a challenging shape.
A challenging lot could be the pie shape in a cul-de-sac, the polygon hidden between the neighboring lots or a long, narrow space. The long space, often the result of how the house is positioned on a lot, tends to feel like a hallway.
What do all these lot shapes have in common? It’s hard to relax in the environment. Too many acute angles in the somewhat triangular, pie-shaped areas make the occupants feel uneasy. There is no resting point. The polygon offers too many angles and results in similar feelings. And hallways (long and narrow shapes) are just hallways - they are meant to rush through, not to hang out.
My long-proven fix for these situations is circles. Round shapes relax people and encourage them to stop and enjoy. I know this from my own front yard. When it was a triangle, people were reluctant to come in and walk to the door. So I put in a half-circle. It worked. Now people actually hang out in my front yard.
Another great example was a pie-shaped lot that originally had a rectangular patio, which forced oddly shaped planting areas. A design with all circles - from the patio to the lawn and even the outdoor kitchen - softened the area and allowed lush, deep planting areas around the perimeter.
Another great way to hide odd corners is to mound up the area in front of the corner and put a focal point on top of it. Best of all, the soil that gets excavated during construction of patios, etc., doesn’t need to go into the landfill - it can be reused on site for the mound. This combines the practical with the environmentally conscious and saves money.
Now to the hallway situations, which are often found in side yards or narrow backyards after a remodel. One idea is to divide them into smaller areas. Using round shapes helps to hide the narrow rectangle from the eye. To use the example of the side yard shown, we separated it into three distinct areas: a kitchen area, a sitting area with a fountain and a vegetable area behind a gate. The use of round shapes on the ground and for the fountain made the area inviting and intimate. According to the owners, it is a favorite spot in the garden.