“The sun breaks in like a door open wide,
With the burst of sunlight,
That lasting and warm,
Bringing smiles back on peoples faces . . .”
—Ellen Ni Bheachain
As the poem says, spring sunshine makes people smile as we shake off the winter blues. And the sun is here, at least in the short term. The forecast is for warm, sunny days this weekend and into next week.
Do you have sunny spaces to enjoy in your landscape? If you are not taking full advantage of the sunshine that comes into your yard, now is a good time to contemplate making changes.
A Pattern Language
A good resource for landscape design principles is A Pattern Language. This is a book about designing environments: houses, streets and communities. Here is some of what A Pattern Language says about sunny spaces.
“People use open space if it is sunny, and do not use it if it isn’t, in all but desert climates.”
If your deck or patio is on the north side of your house, you probably don’t spend much time there. People also tend not to use sunny spaces if they have to cross a deep band of shade to get there.
You are most likely to use a south-facing space close to the house. People love to bask against a sunny wall. The wall offers a bit of refuge, and the sun offers warmth and light.
Here is more from A Pattern Language.
“Inside a south-facing court, or garden, or yard, find the spot between the building and the outdoors which gets the best sun. Develop this spot as a special sunny place—make it the important outdoor room, a place to work in the sun, or a place for a swing and some special plants, a place to sunbathe.
“Be very careful indeed to place the sunny place in a position where it is sheltered from the wind. A steady wind will prevent you from using the most beautiful place.”
Ideas for sunny spaces
Here are some ideas for landscape designs that take advantage of sunlight. Adding one or more of these elements can help you enjoy your landscape more.
- A private terrace that looks onto the street but is above it and separated from the street by a low wall.
- An outdoor room, with corners defined by columns and edges defined by fences, walls, screens or hedges. You might add a canvas roof that can be rolled out so you can also enjoy the space when it rains.
- A balcony or porch, at least six feet deep. Balconies narrower than six feet are rarely used. Partial privacy from wooden slats, half walls or greenery-covered trellises makes the space more inviting.
- A trellised walkway that uses vines or other vegetation to filter the light and make it softer.
- Seating (such as a bench, low wall, swing or chairs) that faces the sun and is protected from the wind.
Just imagine yourself lounging in the sun in your own yard, perhaps with a book and a cold drink.