Integrating the Parking of Cars in the Garden

What is the place of cars in the garden? First let’s ask ourselves if feelings we associate with cars and driving are compatible with the home environment we want to cultivate. Instead of going straight from our car to our front door, wouldn’t we rather cultivate an intentional entry that prepares us to find the refuge of home?

The journey to refuge can begin even before we exit our cars. After driving on miles of asphalt, a new surface material tells us to start slowing down (literally and metaphorically). It is a signal that we are home. The sound of tires crunching over gravel or dully thudding over cobblestones further reinforces the sense of welcome while also alerting waiting loved ones that we have arrived.

Then there’s the challenge of elegantly folding parking into the sequence of garden spaces. Do we want to dominate a space for the exclusive use of parking? Or is there a way to overlap uses to get the most out of our landscape? How might a parking courtyard accommodate cars as well as human comfort? The relaxing sound of a water feature could encourage us to leave the hassle of the day behind. An integrated seating area could give us just another few minutes to unwind and sort the mail before stepping inside. Or perhaps after a long day, we just want a welcoming space to take a moment to watch the play of light as the sun goes down.

In some contexts, we may want to leave our cars even farther behind and out of sight. In order to take in the full splendor of our landscape, we don’t want to see any icons of the business of everyday life. Constantly catching a glimpse of our cars reminds us of work to be done, errands to be run, meetings to make…. Parking remotely gives us the opportunity to create a protracted, choreographed entry to our private places of retreat. This choreography of transition is unique to each home and landscape, responding to inherent characteristics and highlighting distinctive qualities.