Interior landscapes

Indoor gardens let you experience the outside,inside; easily done with a bit of planning,light and air.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published:June 23, 2012 11:22 am

In a home designed by an architect friend,there lay a central patch filled with smooth polished stones,the type you’d use to layer your garden. I didn’t see the point until I looked up towards the double-height ceiling to find punctured holes on the concrete roof. The owners also intended to fill the narrow bed with greens. I could only imagine what an experience it would give them on a rainy day when droplets would sprinkle into their home,while they sit by the verandah on either side. Or may be on a day when sunlight would wash the interiors,lighting it up,lantern-like.

It’s every homeowner’s Arcadian dream to have a lawn of one’s own. What if it can be done within the four walls of the house,not only without? With a bit of planning,light and air,you could be the proud owner of an oasis in the urban desert.

Bill Bryson in his book At Home,records what it meant to have a lawn in the 19th century. Until then,lawns were meant only for the gentry since these required high maintenance. Thanks to the invention of the lawn mover,well-cut and kept lawns became a reality in homes. Today,technology and deft understanding of light and shade allow home owners living in flats to have a garden experience.

Planning: “Motive,” that’s the primer before you open the landscape chapter in your home. “How much time can you spend?” How much do you need out of your garden? Is it purely utilitarian or should it look pretty?” These are questions one needs to ask when planning a green patch indoors. Most designers make room for a green space at the prelim stage of designing a home. “We always plan the house around the green areas,” says architect Sunil Patil,of Sunil Patil and Associates. “It could be a lawn,a courtyard or a central square in the house. The house can be 2,000 sq ft or 10,000 sq ft,you can even have courtyards that are only 5 ft × 5 ft.”

Choice of space: You can opt for creating a microclimate in your living room,kitchen,bathroom,veranda,patio,or even under staircases. Ensure there is ample light coming through. It is no secret that no plant can survive without the sun,some may require less light than others,but sunlight is part of every plant’s diet. Think of space and scale. For instance,if you choose palms,remember these grow almost 9-10 ft high. Skylights are the answer. Imagine windows on the roof,or along the walls,closer to the roof. These can let in controlled light,giving you maximum scope to reduce artificial light in the interiors. Patil says,“Even a four feet narrow slit in the wall,can work to light your plants yet give them the necessary shade. In bathrooms,it’s possible to have a green area provided you can afford to carve out a skylight and two feet space.”

Water supply and drainage: These are vital for interior landscaping. Ensure there is ample scope for water run-off. Get professional help to waterproof the intended area.

Focal point: Create a point to view,where the wandering eye can rest in a room. Depending on space,use differently-sized trees and shrubs and plant them evenly through the bed or yard. You could also work with varied heights for visual interest. Also not all plants look pretty from close quarters,so choose plants that will be aesthetically appealing as well. Space permitting,opt for curvy corners than straight ones for that soft touch.

Seasonal strife: Take time to research before you choose your plants. Opt for perennials so you can enjoy them the whole year. Seasonal plants are tougher to maintain. Choose plants that are drought tolerant,to help cut your water consumption,and time. Frangipani and Ficus are excellent as low maintenance plants. Bamboo works too,but can be quite rigorous in growth,needs regular pruning and cutting.

And having done all,sit back and allow the green peace to take over.

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