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Entangled Design - Combining Nature with Built Environments

Entangled Design - Combining Nature with Built Environments

By Joe Raboine, Director of Residential Hardscapes, Belgard
Photographs courtesy of Belgard

When designing outdoor spaces, most homeowners and contractors historically leaned toward traditional design approaches that have been in favor for generations. Most patios, decks and other outdoor living areas adhere to standard shapes like squares and rectangles with defined borders separating plant life from the surrounding materials.

As outdoor living becomes a more integral part of daily life, however, design concepts and trends are changing to incorporate organic elements into the built environment. Enter entangled design.

Entangled (or biophilic) design uses true natural elements or those that mimic nature in combination with materials within the space to bring more balance and harmony. This design style is proven to help reduce workplace stress, increase productivity and well-being, and address certain health challenges. Elements like water features, natural wood finishes and vertical gardens are among some of the more common features being added to spaces to foster more connection with nature – but there are ways to make hardscapes feel more natural and organic as well.

There are several beautiful and innovative techniques being used today that blend hardscapes and landscapes together for a more cohesive, natural design.

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Fading: While fading has been around for quite a while, it is emerging as a more common form of hardscape design. This technique makes the pavement feel as if it is “fading” into the surrounding lawn or vegetation. The design can take a formal or informal approach, depending on the desired look and feel, and creates an aesthetically pleasing effect.

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Outcropping: Outcropping uses large stones or boulders as a centerpiece of the overall design. Hardscapes and landscapes can be designed and built around these features, making it appear as if all the elements are woven together for a truly organic feel. Outcropping does not have to stay horizontal either. It can be incorporated into vertical features as well, such as fire pits and walls.

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Formal inset: The formal inset style is one of the easiest to accomplish with hardscapes and softscapes. It can be achieved in curved or angular formats for a uniform look that still has plants and other natural elements incorporated.

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Stepping stones: A rising trend is the stepping stone technique. Hardscapes are placed in a stepping stone pattern and appear as if they are molded into the surrounding environment. This technique is becoming more popular around pool areas, and many homeowners are opting for artificial turf rather than real grass to cut back on water supply and maintenance.

These are just a few entangled design concepts to consider in outdoor living spaces, but the possibilities are truly endless. With the variety of hardscape materials on the market today, which are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, nearly any design can be achieved. 

If you are moving forward with an entangled design in your space, make sure to check with the hardscape manufacturer or a contractor about installation considerations to ensure the application is done properly and the final product looks smooth and cohesive.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

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