Saturday, January 17, 2009

Grass Patterns

Plants have many uses. The first and most obvious use of plants is their use as flooring - something to walk on. All plants that are at or less than four inches in height would fall into this category. Perhaps the most obvious choice for plants utilized as a walking surface is grass.

Recently, I found a wonderful blog called The Art of Gardening. In it, Jim Charlier writes about his installation of a paved and planted area in his own yard that was designed in a checkerboard pattern. Here is his backyard project:

Photo by Jim Charlier

Jim was inspired by the floor of the ballroom at the Chateau de Chenonceau during a recent trip to the Loire Valley of France. Here is the photo for his inspiration:

Photo by Jim Charlier

Jim, although very creative, is not the first to design using this classic checkerboard geometry. After reading his post, I immediately recalled my own creation here:

Famed Brazilian Landscape Architect Burle Marx designed in this way years ago:

Photo by Mitchell Beazley

Another example of a checkerboard design in grass by an unknown artist is here:

Paved stepping stones such as these laid out in an orderly geometric grid are very popular to navigate one's way through grass:

Photo by Elke Borkowski

Here is a Japanese version. It is the 'Dry Garden' at the Bloedel Garden designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana of the University of California. I love this deconstructivist and more random approach.

And the American version of that one. It's near the entrance of the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

Photo by Catscape

This one is a little more green and edgy. It's a paving and grass checkerboard design that is driveable and pervious, allowing runoff from rain events to leach back into the ground as opposed to running off and polluting our waterways. Functional and stylish too!

Where did our interest in this geometric form originate? The origins of geometry are unknown. However, throughout time, man has used it in navigation and astronomy. Over time, man has also used it to subdivide land.

Photo by Ben Heys

Other interesting geometric forms in grass include more from Burle Marx at Flamengo Park in Brasil.

Photo by Sahil

Here is the same design used by Burle Marx in paving in Rio de Janiero.

And on the Copacabana.

The wavy pattern of the grass and paving mimics the shoreline of the tidal water adjacent to these sites.

Here are some more primitive uses of grass. The first one is Mudman, an earth sculpture at The Lost Gardens of Heligan at Cornwall, England.

This is "Earth Woman." She is considered to be "Earth" art.

I don't think I'd like to walk on either one of these grass installations!

Here is a temporary art exhibit that took place in Berlin. It was designed by the firm msk7 for a design competition entitled "Finding Refuge - Huguenots in Berlin." Grass letters were arranged in front of the gendarmenmarkt in a crossword-like arrangement.

And an unsual design using mowed grass in concentric shapes.

The tree is in the "bulls eye" postion. It certainly has a ripple effect, doesn't it?

This may be a more common site. Stepping stones through the grass. They beckon us to move forward.

We can create the desire to move forward through a field just by mowing a path through it.

Today, some of us are obsessed with creating geometric patterns such as these in our own lawns.

To learn how you to, can master this artform go Here or Here.


  1. Awesome post!

    I remember years ago when Smith & Hawken sold seed to plant in your yard besides grass. I was obsessed with the idea. Thyme and low-growing flowers mixed with clover and things (I don't remember the specifics). I'm sad it didn't catch on. It's so much better than grass.

    I also LOVE the driveable grass (driveway).

    I will be borrowing some of these photos for a checkerboard post I am planning (indoors) and will be linking to you. I am also adding you to my blogroll. You look like you're off to a great start!

  2. HG -- Thank you for your kind words! I am thrilled you liked the post and even more thrilled that you are adding me to your blogroll! I will certainly try to not disappoint. You are more than welcome to use any of my pics for your checkerboard post too. Can't wait to see it! You continue to be an inspiration to me.

  3. Beautiful post. I enjoy flying over the US and looking at the patterns in the land below...seeing one of your pictures reminded me of it.

    This is the second time this month I have seen that chateau in France. Another blog posted on this very hall, and how a wood floor company had photoshopped wood floors into the picture (instead of the black and white).

  4. Hey Pam, that's a great post. I love the pictorial meandering through grasses in gardens.

    I definitely want to try some more Burle Marx ideas out in my gardens.

  5. Check out this picture...I thought of you (and this post) when I saw it...

  6. Thanks for sharing TTI! That absolutely would fit in with this post! It looks as if the checkerboard pattern on basketweave bricks and grass is in the middle of a driveway. The only thing I'm curious about (as a Landscape Architect) is how it holds up structurally being driven on especially during a soaking rain event.

  7. what a cool blog, and unexpected angle on design! Though I don't know if I can bear to read you very often, as it will make me horribly homesick for the gardens we had when I was growing up in Virginia... here in NYC I can't even manage a house plant!

  8. Thanks for stopping by NF! It's nice to have you here. Don't be shy about coming around. You can enjoy many stunning gardens in NYC as well and live vicariously through this blog, too! ;-)

  9. Thanks for including me in this very well-done post. And I though t I was the first to do a checkerboard pattern!

  10. Pam:
    Great blog: Thanks! I will follow.

    Was reminded of Fletcher Steel's Rose garden at Naumkeag & Julie Moir Messervy's opening area of Mytoi at Chappaquiddick (Martha's Vineyard).

  11. Julie-
    Thanks so much for your comments. I will have a look at both of the gardens you mentioned. I am honored to have you here! Welcome and I will be following your blog as well.

  12. mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow
    im a coz i like to eat the grass...
    mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow

  13. Wow what a Excellent designs. I really appreciate you for the fantastic designs. small garden design

  14. Beautiful post. I enjoy flying over the US and looking at the patterns in the land below...seeing one of your pictures reminded me of it.backyard design

  15. absolutely marvellous, but i would like to know more about tropical garden.

  16. Great post. thanks for sharing these beautiful posts.

    bill ackman

  17. awesome post........

    Great Post! This blog is ever amazing. Thanks

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  19. These are awesome!! I love landscape designs, especially with lawns. I particularly like the stepping stone path, probably because I'm a fantasy nerd and I just like the calm look and natural feel. One of my neighbors who is big into gardening and landscape used some Minot residential paving services before she moved by us, and they helped her yard look fantastic! It'd be fun to do something like these ideas.


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