For example, if your outdoor area is expansive, the first outside space should be larger than the indoor space you just left. But if you’re hemmed in by other buildings and boundaries, as in an urban terrace situation, the first space you move into may end up being smaller than the room you’re coming from.
Consider, also, the shape of your spaces. In the roughing out stage, I purposefully design some long and some narrow areas to encourage people to move through or walk along. Then there will be areas that are wider, and therefore slower’, encouraging a pause, and possibly a sit. In the same way that water or air speeds up when forced through a narrow valley, and slows when it widens out, the speed and direction of our own movements can – and should be – deliberately manipulated. As much as possible, I attempt to alternate, or provide a balance between, these ‘dynamic’ and ‘static’ spaces.
So, having worked out the first space of the garden, I’ll map out the ones that extend out from it, and how I’m going to move between them – either through narrow or wide openings, or
I mentally shade all the infill between them, and tell myself that it’s into these shaded spaces that all the planting goes, and all the other features I want to tuck in. The empty, open space is sacrosanct. The planting, and any other built feature I want to add, will collectively create the walls of (and hopefully imply the ceiling of) the spaces that I’ll ultimately hang out in, in my garden.
If you’re having trouble separating the detail of what you’re seeing (in your mind’s eye) from your gut-response to the space, or comparing how it looks to how it feels, think about a good garden and mentally throw a huge white sheet over it – so that it becomes a simple, white, 3D sculpture. Without the distraction of flowers and features, you can focus on the sense of enclosure the garden offers, and how it prompts your movements through it.