In every domestic landscape, there are moments of entry – thresholds that separate the personal realm from the public. Whether these thresholds are explicit or more subtle, they shape the experience and rhythm of outdoor space. In landscape design, thresholds create unique opportunities to register a moment in time. They guide us through the landscape and concentrate a transition between two realms. Thoughtful thresholds will make meaningful connections between spaces and enrich the garden experience.
Good spatial definition creates intentional outdoor rooms. The transitions that link these rooms help set the tone for the space. While arches and gates form literal entrances, plants are a great tool for implying edges and transitions. In the temperate climate of Eugene, Oregon, many different plant species thrive. This produces a rich palette from which gardeners can choose specimens that define the character of a space. To create a formal entrance, the vertical structures of conifers will act as gateposts to the garden. Trees with branches that join overhead create gateways. Small multi-trunked trees such as vine maples or witch hazels framing a path provide a more whimsical introduction.
While trees and other vertical elements are useful markers, the ground plane creates another opportunity to articulate transitions. A change in materials underfoot can slow movement or mark a change in space. The crunch of a gravel walkway contrasts with a smooth paved surface, articulating a change in space.
Thresholds are more than a simple link between two spaces. They choreograph the experience of moving through the garden. They help create separation between the public and private realm, providing a heightened sense of arrival to the domestic sphere. A well-designed threshold extends the boundaries of the home into the garden. These transitions help you shed the static of everyday life as you leave the car behind and enter the sanctuary of the home.
Positioning thresholds carefully will frame views and draw you through space. Highlighting a beautiful destination with a constricted opening creates intrigue and an invitation through the garden. Thresholds create contrasts - between open and enclosed spaces, between light and dark, public and private – and compress that contrast into a single moment. This compression heightens awareness and defines space. Thresholds are an important ingredient in creating comfortable outdoor spaces, and are carefully crafted at Lovinger Robertson Landscape Architects.