If your yard is not the typical square or rectangle, do not panic. There are many ideas for landscaping your irregularly shaped yard!
Not every property comes with the typical square or rectangular yard. If you have one of these non-conforming areas, consider yourself lucky. You have the potential for adding much greater interest more easily than with those boring, typical yards. In landscaping, much effort is devoted to “flow.” This means the rounding off of corners and sharpness so that the yard feels comfortable and unified. In Feng Shui, sharp corners facing toward the passerby send bad “chi” or bad energy.
That being said, you still have many choices ahead. You may choose to enhance the existing shape of the yard or disguise it. There will be a discussion of various shapes and how to “go with the flow.” Alternately, there will be suggestions as to how to hide the real shape of your yard.
The first technique to remedy irregularity is to create a niche containing a focal point using any part of the yard that offers that type of space. Add a statue, a gazing ball, a water feature or some other decoration. The irregular area will look like a frame for the focal point.
The next way to treat an irregularly shaped yard is to make a secret garden. Picture that part that jags out oddly as a different space. Wall that area off with shrubbery or a fence with or without a gate. Leave an entrance that cannot be seen from earlier along the garden path. On the practical side, you can use such an area, screened from view, for storage, garbage cans, woodpiles or other utilitarian things.
Try rejecting the shape of the whole space and instead dividing it into “rooms.” Different rooms have different functions. One “room” might be the dining room and contain a picnic table or outdoor tables and chairs for dining. Add a barbeque or a bar. Another “room” could be the living room. Outdoor seating and loungers arranged into conversational groupings would go here. There would be side tables upon which to place beverages. “Rooms can be separated by a change in the type of walkway, a fence, trellis, or gate, shrubbery, or anything else that stops the eye and indicates change. You can make a “playroom” for sports. The idea is to divide and use each space for a different activity.
There are a few ways to disguise or accent the width or length of a yard without dividing it into rooms. To make an area look like a long vista, use a small focal point and small plantings in the distance. The small size makes things look farther away. Conversely, use larger plantings up close. Also, make the walkway fairly narrow and closely edged by shrubbery or other items at the beginning. Then make the walkway gradually wider and allow more space and openness around the path. To deemphasize a long view, use larger things in the distance and shorter things close up. Make the entry wide and open. Do not put a focal point at the back of the view, but, instead, place it closer to the entry. Build something into the middle of the walkway, like an island of plants, statuary, or whatever. The walkway can go either around one side or both sides, but the island will create a visual stop in the path so the eye does not see the long view beyond.
If your yard is roughly triangular, how it is treated depends upon the location of the entry to the yard. If you enter at a point in the triangle, you view a natural vista in that you are looking at an entire side of the triangle and viewing it from a narrow space. If you like that look, try the ideas to enhance it. If not, cut the far corners off into garden rooms. What is left is a much more manageable space that is much closer to a rectangle. If the entry is through a side of the triangle, you are facing a long, narrow point in the yard. You can divide off that back point into a room so that the yard appears more shallow. On the other hand, choose to enhance that long, narrow view with the techniques mentioned earlier. These techniques also apply to the long, narrow, rectangular yard.
An L-shaped yard is very easy to divide into rooms and begs for a secret garden. If you have an odd spot that juts out or in, you can use it for a focal point or a naturally defined garden room.
Decide what shape your yard is. Examine its different uses and think about rooms. Think about what you want to see: a long vista, or a cozy enclosed space. The choice is all yours!