Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love

A Book Review

Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love by Julie Moir Messervy is a new book published by The Taunton Press.

“Home is where the heart is. It’s our sanctuary in a stressful world, the place we long to return to when we’ve been away. But home is more than just the four walls of our house; it encompasses the land around the house as well. When we turn down our street and pull into our driveway, we’re home,” so starts Julie Moir Messervy in her newest book, Home Outside. She continues, “Yet most of us feel less confident about creating outdoor living spaces than we do about our interiors. Inside, we happily paint walls, choose finishes, and buy rugs, furniture, and fixtures, but when we step outside we’re unsure of how to begin. That’s where this book comes in. Home Outside is not just another garden- or landscape-design book. It’s a step-by-step approach that lets you see your property through the eyes of a designer (that would be me).”

The cover of Home Outside by Julie Moir Messervy

The cover of Home Outside by Julie Moir Messervy

Julie Moir Messervy challenges readers to discover what kind of designer they are by taking a fun designer’s personality test to better understand what aesthetic garden style best fits. The score based on the answers to a series of questions will reveal which of the following designer styles best fits, reserved or expressive, practical or conceptual, principled or personal, orderly or relaxed.

Home Outside is systematic progression through a six step design process to help homeowners turn their yards into a truly functional and visually appealing landscape. Julie Moir Messervy divides the process into

    Lay of the land– where the site is thoroughly examined for soil, sun, wind, circulation, vegetation and views.
    Big moves –where one of four basic layouts is used to organize the space around the house, as well, an aesthetic arrangement is chosen and a theme or style identified.
    Comfort Zones-where the surrounding, welcoming, neighboring and living zones are identified.
    Making it Flow-where movement around and through the landscape is studied according to whether people will be moving, pausing or stopping.
    Placing the Pieces-where focal points and frames are placed in the landscape to create a harmonious picture.
    Sensory Pleasures-where the details that bring the landscape to life such as beauty and harmony are added using the natural elements of earth (plants), water, fire (lighting) and air.

Even if your garden is not ready to get a major renovation or a new landscape plan created, Home Outside is loaded with ideas on how to improve even a small portion of a larger landscape scheme. Perhaps a new retaining wall, side garden bed, or small patio is all that is needed right now, Home Outside can provide the inspiration to create a unique, usable and personal space.

The Island - being in the middle of an open space. In the Lay of the Land chapter of Home Outside by Julie Moir Messervy.

The Island - being in the middle of an open space. In the Lay of the Land chapter of Home Outside by Julie Moir Messervy.

Homeowners with all types of budgets from working on a shoestring to “what budget?” Can benefit from the design steps in Home Outside. Many simple “plan view” sketches have been include to illustrate the points made in the text. For example, three different driveways are shown for the same house, a good pedestrian flow and bad flow examples and a symmetrical framing of focal points and asymmetrical one.

Throughout Home Outside, Julie Moir Messervy transforms the design process into very manageable and easy to comprehend topics so that homeowners can really create a landscape that is their own “home outside,” — one that can be truly used, enjoyed, and provides a real outdoor connection.

Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love by Julie Moir Messervy
Hardcover, 240 pages, $30.00 The Taunton Press, ISBN: 978-1-60085-008

The cover image was used with permission by The Taunton Press.  The Island image appears on page 47 of Home Outside. Photo courtesy of  Myke Hodgins, Hodgins & Associates Landscape Architects.

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