A Changing Approach to Backyards

Since the 1920s, suburbs have sprung up as popular places to live, as people found they offered a perfect lifestyle in an ideal environment. However, the perception and definition of outdoor gardens has changed over the years. What had initially been a bridge between the house and the great outdoors has become a parcel of private, individualized nature which then evolved to have a different mission: to add living space to the house.

Over the past decade, how we see outdoor development has also changed. This is partly due to development pressure, as suburban houses have become more closely spaced, much closer to their neighbours. We could also consider the fact that the “new gardeners” are increasingly urban and that they are increasingly interested in lifestyle. So, what had been a pastime for relaxing after a hard day’s work, is today perceived as an obligatory shift to a better quality of life in the back yard. The new generations’ interests are turning to developing attracting and comfortable living spaces and these arrangements include any kind of structure, furniture, decorative accessories and plants.

The massive increase in interest in outdoor living spaces is evident in, among other things, the growing number of patios built in North America. Not only are many more of them springing up, year after year, but they are also getting bigger and bigger. In 35 years, in the United States, the average size of a patio has more than doubled, from 18.4 m2 to 42.4 m2.

As a patio never springs up all by itself, landscaping with plants serves to enhance structures and better integrate all the elements erected in their environment. Plants also come to the rescue to enhance privacy, and play an aesthetic role in making outdoor spaces inviting and visually appealing.

And therein lies the new power of flowers: in contemplation. Numerous studies show that the presence of plants has an influence on people’s lives and mood. In a green space (or coloured with flowers), we feel happier and less stressed. Plants are also an excellent incentive to go outside, which has a beneficial impact on health in general. There is nothing better than a landscaped yard to improve quality of life... just by looking at it.

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Resources:

Brethour, Cher et al. 2007. Revue littéraire sur les bienfaits des produits de l'horticulture ornementale sur la santé et l'environnement [Review of the literature on the benefits of ornamental horticultural products on health and environment]. George Morris Center. Page 28, 47-48.

Carney, Elizabeth. 2007. Suburbanizing Nature and Naturalizing Suburbanites: Outdoor-Living Culture and Landscapes of Growth. The Western Historical Quarterly. Vol. 38, No. 4 (Winter, 2007), pp. 477-500.

Chotiner, Michael. 2015. Designing functional outdoor living spaces. McKnight's – The news you need. Consulted online.

Markarian, Jennifer. 2008. Outdoor living space drives growth in wood-plastic composites. Plastics, Additives and Compounding. Volume 10, Issue 4, July–August 2008, Pages 20–25.

Woolley, H. et al. 2004. The Value of Public Space - How high quality parks and public spaces create economic, social and environmental value. Cabe Space. Department of Landscape University of Sheffield. 19 pages.

 

Beauty   Environment   Health and Quality of Life   Economic