What’s your elemental archetype? And how does the calling of your heart and soul dictate the way you should landscape your property?
Elemental archetypes are models of personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior based on the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.
The Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, believed that we have many archetypes within us, however most people are dominated by one specific archetype.
In this 13th post of the Happy by Design series, I help you discover which elemental archetype you may be, and I explain the best landscaping approaches for each archetype.
It All Begins with Intention
As with everything important in your life, your landscaping begins with getting clear on your intentions. Knowing yourself and how you intend to interact with each area of your property is the foundation needed to begin planning for inspired landscaping.
First, we recommend taking some time to look within. Before rushing off to design the landscaping perceived as beautiful to others, take a moment to listen to your heart and soul and ask yourself these essential questions:
Your landscaping is so much more than just pretty plants and something others may be impressed by. Gaining clarity on what inspires YOU first will help you design your home, your yard, and your life.
Discover what your elemental archetype is to gain more clarity on how to design landscaping specific to YOU. Keep in mind, you may identify with more than one archetype, so allow yourself to consider the landscaping tips for all that feel representative of you.
You Might be an Earth Archetype if…
You tend to be grounded and rooted firmly to home. You have a strong sense of family and community and likely host intentional gatherings. You prefer to be surrounded by trees, forests, farms, and gardens. You cultivate a deep connection with the soil, plants, and other species close to the ground. The views from your windows look deeply into the processes of nature, like a farm or forest.
Tip #1: Landscaping for group gatherings
Design outdoor spaces on your property for large gatherings where groups can interact with nature. Choose low maintenance native grasses or xeriscaping in heavy foot traffic areas where people tend to gather, like around picnic tables and close to covered porches.
Choose hardscaping that leads guests where you prefer them to go and gives them a place to commune with nature. A wooden arbor or gazebo provides privacy, shelter, and an invitation further into nature. Stone or gravel pathways connect the areas where guests are most likely to visit, like a bathroom with outdoor access, an outdoor structure, gardens, or farm animal habitats.
Tip #2: Garden selection, placement & design
The ideal location of a garden will be dependent on the type of garden that inspires you, the location on your property that receives the appropriate sunlight, and the way you want to interact with your garden.
Do you want a meditation garden that doubles as a sanctuary you can escape to? Work with the biophilic technique of prospect and refuge to design an oasis that feels safe and soothing to your nervous system. Choose an area of your property along a tree line that provides a sense of security (refuge). Maintain an open view of what’s coming towards you (prospect) with low-lying shade tolerant plants.
Click HERE to learn more about prospect and refuge.
Do you want a vegetable or herb garden close to your kitchen where you can pop outside for some fresh ingredients? If the location by your kitchen doesn’t have enough sun for a full garden, consider a smaller garden for shade-tolerant leafy greens and find the location on your property that will support the vegetable and herb garden you desire.
Choose a designer who knows how to work with the path of the sun across your property and can incorporate the way you want to interact with your landscaping into the floorplan of your home.
Tip #3: Yard plant selection
Choose low-maintenance, local native plant species that require less watering and will encourage more pollinators. Be aware though, plants that attract pollinators also invite bees to your yard. We recommend being mindful of the placement of flowering local native plants that attract bees so they don’t interfere with group gatherings, outdoor living spaces, or entrances of your home.
Consider planting a pollinator garden away from these sensitive areas and closer to your vegetable garden. Click HERE for a list of pollinator-friendly plants in NC.
Since earth archetypes are so firmly rooted to a sense of home, why not consider creating a home for the bees? Apiaries are a beautiful, intriguing, and dynamic focal point to the landscaping around your garden that calls you deeper into coexistence with Mother Nature. While bees pollinate your gardens, you reciprocate the favor with food and shelter.
Tip #4: Create your own earth elements
If your property doesn’t naturally have the earth element that your heart and soul are craving, choose landscaping that creates it. Instead of fences, use bushes and hedges to delineate your property from others. Leyland cypress trees are a favorite of many landscape designers for their ability to provide privacy, though be aware that these trees grow so tall that they will shade your yard earlier in the day if not trimmed back.
Green walls and wall planters are another great way to create greenery in an area where a boundary or fence line is required.
You Might be a Water Archetype if…
You live your life more fluidly, moving about freely yet still tethered to a strong sense of home. You like to travel, though you equally enjoy coming back to your home - your sanctuary. When you do travel you tend to vacation on lakes, rivers, and oceans. You likely also live (or aspire to live) on a body of water.
Tip #1: Vista views
If you live near a lake, you likely have a buffer zone between the water’s edge and your home where trees are not able to be cut down. This can be a bummer when those wide-sweeping panoramic views are blocked. However, you might have the opportunity to create a more desirable vista view. A vista is a type of view that still has a deep field of sight though is more restricted. Limbing up lower branches will open up a vista of the lake between the trees.
Tip #2: Plant selection
If you live close to a natural body of water, be sure to choose riparian species of plants. These plants thrive in soils where the water table is high.
Choose beneficial native aquatic plants along the water’s edge, like the beautiful blue flag iris that’s resistant to being eaten by muskrats, waterfowl, and other water loving creatures. Plants like these also work well as effective shoreline erosion protection.
Check out this article by the N.C. Lake Management Society for additional suggestions for aquatic plants and their benefits.
Tip #3: Design your own water element
If you identify as a water archetype though you don’t live on a natural body of water, why not create your own body of water?
Incorporating water features into your landscaping is a beautiful and effective way to surround yourself with the tranquility offered by water. Manmade fountains, ponds, waterfalls, or streams can enhance the ambiance of your property with the soothing sounds that call to the soul of the water archetype.
The unique texture of water can be used in areas that call for contrast to the textures of other elements in your yard, as well as the hard lines of architectural elements such as retaining walls, fences, or outbuildings.
Tip #4: Combining features with function.
Rain bells that run into a water collection barrel can be a beautiful way to capture and redistribute rainwater to other areas of your property that needs it most. Not all water collection systems are created equal so get creative here. Check out these cool options that make water conservation stylish:
You Might be a Fire Elemental Archetype if…
Your life is spicy, exciting, and passionate! Things that no longer serve you are burned away to make room for something new. You connect deeply with self and others. You’re equally satisfied by deep one-on-one intimate conversations as well as the excitement of a large group celebration. You feel both soothed and energize by the flicker of a flame.
Tip #1: Connecting with the fire
Outdoor fireplaces, pits, and tables are some of our most sought-after requests. To properly design the fire features that truly speak to your heart and soul, get clear on how you want to connect while interacting with fire.
Do you want to create an intimate space with a free-standing fireplace, comfy seating, and an overhead pergola for connecting with a select few loved ones?
Or would you prefer a fire feature that makes you feel like you’re camping in solitude surrounded by trees so you can quietly watch the dancing flames while deepening your connection to self and nature?
Perhaps you want a firepit in the sand by the lake to connect the opposing elements of fire and water?
Or maybe you desire a large firepit where many people can connect for Fourth of July parties?
Be mindful that when you play with fire, extra precautions need to be taken. Choose fire resistant hardscaping like gravel or stone around the fire feature and beware of flammable materials overhead.
Click HERE for 61 gorgeous fire pit landscaping ideas with photos.
Tip #2: Fire-resistant landscaping
Protect your home from potential wildfires with fire-resistant landscaping. This deliberate style of landscaping utilizes fire-resistant plants that slows the spread of fire to your home. These plants also tend to be drought tolerant and increase the value of your home. A safe, well protected home is a valuable home.
Fire-resistance landscaping intentionally designs a buffer zone (defensible space) around your home to slow or stop a wildfire. It’s recommended that your home and any attached structures maintain a defensible space of at least 100ft in all directions.
Plant choice, spacing, and maintenance are key components to keeping a clear defensible space. Vines and ornamental grasses are extremely flammable and should be kept outside the intended buffer. Vegetation that touches your home increases the likelihood that a home will be destroyed during a wildfire. The care and condition of all plants, even fire-safe plants, determines their flammability. Well managed and healthy plants with a good water supply will be much more fire-resistant than stressed or sickly plants.
Local native plant species tend to also be fire-resistant. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as fireproof plants however, some plants are more fire-resistant than others.
Click HERE to learn more about fire-resistant landscaping species in NC.
You Might be an Air Elemental Archetype if…
You live the ultimate life of freedom, able to travel at will. Home can be anywhere, though the ones you choose tend to have LOTS of open space, indoors and out. You have an active imagination and can see opportunity in all scenarios. Others might perceive you as having your head in the clouds, though you know yourself to be a visionary.
Tip #1: Keep views open
Since spaciousness and vast views are essential to the air archetype be sure to keep views open by selecting plant species low to the ground. Be mindful that some species of trees used for privacy landscaping, like the Leyland cypress mentioned above, quickly grow taller than anticipated if not cut back.
However, it’s wise to keep tall mature trees that are able to slow the wind and protect your home from the elements. Work with a designer who knows how to create the best views possible from your property while also incorporating mature trees into your landscaping plan.
Tip #2: Natural habitats
Contribute to the ecology of your property by using local native plants that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for other creatures that share your love of the air element. Plant a butterfly garden using plant species used by butterflies. Keep in mind that the different life stages of a caterpillar-turned-butterfly will require different plants. Click HERE to learn the top host plants for caterpillars and top nectar plants for adult butterflies in NC.
Tip #3: Design enchantment and mystery
If grand panoramic views are not an option from your property, intentionally infuse your yard with enchantment and mystery to inspire the air archetype’s imagination.
A deflected vista creates intrigue and mystery, sparking your curiosity, and inviting you to explore further. Landscaping that creates a deflected vista keeps most or all of a view obscured or hidden around a curve.
If your home is on a mountain though your views are mostly obstructed by trees, shore up the lower limbs such that a mostly obscured view surprisingly becomes visible around a bend on your property. Limbing the branches in the middle of the tree (leaving the canopy and lower limbs) is a crafty landscaping technique for a surprise view from a second or third floor.
Click HERE to learn more about the importance of mystery in design.
Tip #4: Natural and artificial light
The air element is associated with sky and light and though we’ve saved this tip for last, the lighting of your property might be the MOST important aspect of landscaping. Not only does the path of the sun across your property dictate which species of plants can be grown where, but the types of plants grown can dictate how much natural light enters your yard and home.
Intentionally keep or plant trees in areas where you want more shading (like the south or west side of your home). And intentionally remove or trim back trees and shrubs that are overgrown and block essential natural light.
Supplement artificial light in more heavily shaded areas and areas you’re wanting to illuminate at night. The lighting of your property makes a HUGE impact on curb appeal, safety, accessibility, and resale value.
Add solar lights along a walkway to illuminate pathways that need consistent lighting every night for safety. String lights in the trees, on pergolas, or from posts to create a beautifully lit area for outdoor gatherings that go late into the evenings. Emphasize the beauty of a favorite tree with spotlights that shine up into the canopy. Shed light on all your hard work in a garden so you can enjoy its beauty even after the sun goes down. Get creative and click HERE to find more outdoor lighting inspiration.
An Inspired Soul Creates Inspired Landscaping
Gaining clarity on your personal elemental archetypes will help you prioritize key landscaping features that allow you to design the oasis that speaks true to YOU.
We’re not keeping up with the Jones’ here. We’re designing a home and life that YOU love! One that brings YOU ultimate happiness. And your landscaping plays a significant role in how you feel about your home.
Your landscaping should be an expression of your soul.
Once you’re clear on your personal elemental archetype and you’ve set you intentions for the use of each space on your property, you’re now ready to look at your landscaping from the three essential viewpoints.
Stay tuned for our next blog that explains what the three essential viewpoints are and why it’s so important to take advantage of all three.
I intend your elemental archetypes help you design landscaping that makes your soul sing!
Inspired by you,
Jenny Pippin, CPBD, FAIBD, CGP
Pippin Home Designs
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I am Jenny Pippin, founder of Pippin Home Designs and creator of my own inspired living. I grew up as an ordinary southern girl, working in the fields of my family’s tobacco farm. It didn’t take me long to realize I had greater gifts and so I chose to step into my power and create my own path in life, inspired by my heart’s true passion. (More on my personal story HERE!)