Pauses Along the Way

Strong transitions make moving through a garden a satisfying experience.

By Shirley Remes


how to create flow in the gardenSet the Path

A wood-chip path leading through a wood shifts visitors between garden areas. Nyquist calls this his “strolling garden.” He wanted it to be secluded from other areas of his property, so after laying the path near the edge of the woods, he flanked it with dense plantings of Canadian hemlocks, junipers, rhododendrons, and other shrubs that would hide the rest of the yard year-round. “I wanted lots of structure and a visible barrier,” he said.

On the other hand, an open expanse of lawn also makes a great transition between spaces. The central lawn area provides a 360-degree view, including entrances to several different locations in the yard.

“A lawn is an area you can move across comfortably,” says Hursthouse, drawing a comparison between walking on smooth, level grass and the more uneven tread of a wood-mulched path. Loose path material slows us down as we walk through a space. Walking onto a lawn with its even feel underfoot invites a quicker pace, taking us onward. And visually, a lawn is a unifying and simplifying element, says Hursthouse. The smooth texture and restful green color lead our eye to the next focal point.