“New year — a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” — Alex Morritt. 

"Each day is a new beginning, the chance to do with it what should be done and not to be seen as simply another day to put in time.” — Catherine Pulsifer. 

“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach.

January is a good time to focus on your home landscape and plan for potential needs for the seasons to come. In this planning process, consider designing and constructing enrichment items which will enhance the aesthetics of the property and bring personal enjoyment to your family and guests. This is your great outdoors; therefore, make the best of it while considering cost, sustainability effects, and environmental awareness.

Enrichment items play an important role in completing the landscape in function, aesthetics, form and value. To better understand the role of enrichment items, picture the indoor rooms of your home and visualize the ceilings, walls and floors. These rooms are not ready for use until they are furnished in a manner conducive to your descriptions and specifications of needs and wants. To make them functional and personal, they require furniture, lightning, pictures, music, pets, and so forth in a layout that minimizes clutter and confusion.

The outdoor rooms operate under the same concepts and have similar needs to make them personal and functional. Enrichment items are components of the outdoor room that are not essential to the formation of the walls, ceiling and floor of the landscape, but are materials (items) included in their spaces offering positive value that fulfills a purpose without clutter and confusion.

Enrichment items in the landscape can be tangible (touchable) or intangible (sensed but untouchable), and natural (of nature) or fabricated (synthetic or manufactured). Examples of natural tangible items are rocks or boulders, water in a stream or fountain, or a simple flower. Examples of intangible natural items include the sound created when the wind blows through the trees, the sounds of water flow or fall, music from song birds singing, viewing the soaring of an eagle or hawk above, and the fragrance of flowers in bloom.

Examples of fabricated tangible items are outdoor furniture, benches, gazebos, pergolas, hammocks, etc. Examples of intangible fabricated items are the sounds made by wind blowing through the chimes, the sounds of church bells ringing in the distance, the sounds made by water flowing over and down a custom fountain, etc.

The inability to touch certain enrichment items does not lessen their value in the landscape. Intangible enrichment items are pleasing to the senses of hearing, smell and taste. Also, if a member of your family has any physical impairment, these items can play a significant role in how they enjoy the great outdoors.

Care must be exercised in the design process to minimize over-use of enrichment items. And, the quality of the enrichment items must be considered to ascertain and maintain a desirable and appealing space. For example, outdoor furniture can exhibit characteristics from heavy and unwieldy to cheap and tasteless, with many desirable features in between. Choosing the right characteristics such as size, shape, color, construction material, appearance, weight, complementation, etc. in your outdoor furniture will help determine the effectiveness of these enrichment items. If the enrichment item does not add value and complement the site then it must be omitted or replaced with a choice that will offer such enhancement.

It is possible to use too many enrichment items and this usually happens quite frequently. When this happens, the effect is described as clutter and smorgasbord with such design principles as simplicity and unity falling victim to excess usage and poor planning. 

Another enrichment is night lighting which offers great landscape benefits in the after-hours from entertaining to individual enjoyment. We have come a long way from the basic flood lights affording glare and blinding to modern lighting strategies offering softer and more attractive results. The ground solar lights are an ingenious approach to guiding traffic flow throughout the property or space.

Types of night lighting include walk lights (safety and decoration), silhouette lighting (outlines plants when placed behind them), shadow lighting (light placed in front which casts a shadow against the wall behind), down lighting (fixed high in a tree and cast patterns of light and leaf shadows on the ground), and up lighting (fixed on surface and cast pattern of light and form upwardly). When planned properly, these types of lighting can be most pleasing in your night-scapes.

Two lighting precautions must be acknowledged and followed. First, position the lights so as they do not shine into the landscape user’s eyes which would be a safety hazard and inconvenience to the space guest.  Secondly, be sure that the level of brightness outside the house equals the level inside the house. Otherwise, the separating glass door or window serves as a mirror and reflects, thus minimizing the value of the lighting effect to the inside viewer looking out into the night-scape.

Enrichment items serve your spaces quite effectively and are chosen based upon your individual wants and needs. Determination of how you want to use your space will be the guide to what you need to select to fulfill your dreams and provide an outdoor room that is both pleasing and enjoyable.

Structures such as hot tubs, gazebos, pergolas, trellis’s, planters, benches, hammocks, chairs, swings, etc. can be most effective in your spaces. Also, statues, bird houses, bird baths, bird feeders, squirrel feeders, fountains, urns, etc. can be enjoyed too.

Chimes effectively positioned on the site offer great acoustics as the wind blows through them. Insure that your outdoor sitting or hammock area, pool or hot tub area, etc. are musically-enriched. Continue to keep environmental awareness at the forefront as you plan the enrichment of your great outdoors.

“My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for You.” — Isaiah 26:9. 

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” — Psalm 104:33-34. 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” — John 3:3. 

Seagle is a Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to csi_seagle @yahoo.com.

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