An exceptional open-air ambience – modern garden design

Whether it be making an expressive contrast or creating a harmonious setting, modern garden design is as multifaceted as the architecture that surrounds it. However, when the green spaces are not only exquisite in their own right, but are also equal to the property to which they belong in terms of both aesthetics and functionality, they achieve a level of attention to detail that makes all the difference between a stylish residential unit and a true luxury property.

Bettina Schneuer 3. May 2022 · Updated: 3. May 2022 · Reading Time: 7 minutes

“The garden and the pathway to the entrance are a property’s calling card: They make the first impression. Simultaneously, especially in urban locations, the back garden becomes a private retreat,” says Dr Axel Schmitz. For the managing director of RALF SCHMITZ, exquisite garden design is not only an integral part of project development, but also a matter for the boss – and an expression of the corporate philosophy. “The name RALF SCHMITZ is synonymous with extraordinary living. And for us, that means developing every element of our properties to create a design piece that is as exclusive as it is functional, from the interior to the façade to the garden.”

What does that mean in concrete terms? Modern design, unique concepts and the quiet luxury of a garden offer true pleasure and room for everything.

If you have a garden and a library, you will want for nothing.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

How modern garden design combines the beautiful with the useful

Modern garden design combines elements of all three garden types – the ornamental garden, the kitchen garden and the natural garden – to create an individual concept that brings together a variety of uses, from enjoying nature to urban gardening. The design concept is based on the location of the garden and the associated conditions for healthy plant growth; however, above all it is based on the individual wants and needs of the owners. In the garden of a luxury townhouse, for example, the hedge at the boundary of the property can provide a screen that is as discreet as it is effective, or a carefully placed palm tree can cast natural shade on a sun-drenched veranda. On the other hand, a shared garden in the courtyard of an apartment building requires a certain structure; it needs to be subdivided into units that allow several parties of the household community to use the garden at the same time – either together or each undisturbed on their own.

“Modern garden design is not just dedicated to the back garden,” notes Jan Lorenz. As an architect and project developer, he knows from many years of experience that, especially in urban environments, the front garden is also an integral part of the design concept. “After all, the garden path leading to the front door should not only look good, but also offer the greatest possible comfort in all living situations. That’s why it would never occur to us to plan a pure rock garden, for example. For one thing, it would turn the front of a property into a lifeless desert, and for another, it would not provide us with enough design scope, including concerning functional elements. Well thought-out garden design makes it possible, for example, to add greenery to all the utility spaces in front of the house so that neither bicycles nor rubbish bins disturb the view from the window or the view of the façade, because the lines of the front garden will completely conceal them.”

Edle Terrasse mit Wasserbecken am Haus Bennett in Berlin-Grunewald
Epitome of a city villa garden: noble terrace with water basin at the Bennett house in Berlin-Grunewald

Multifaceted and yet always harmonious: Garden design for luxury properties

An extensive garden not only requires a correspondingly large plot of land, but also demands a certain amount of planning sensitivity from the project developer. Firstly, the garden design must fit harmoniously into the overall picture that is created by both the property and the surrounding natural environment. Secondly, long-term planning is essential for an outdoor area that allows maximum comfort and enjoyment of nature from the very first moment: a freshly planted garden must give young perennials, shrubs and trees the space to grow, but at the same time it must not appear bare. Mastering this balancing act, from selecting to arranging plants with confidence, requires many years of experience as well as a keen eye for detail, which also benefits the garden design when it comes to coordinating with the property.

Every house has its own identity, which is reflected in numerous facets of the interior and exterior design. The more that comes from a single source, the more harmonious the overall appearance. This is another reason why the portfolio of experienced developers such as RALF SCHMITZ includes properties that are characterised by harmony in all elements, both inside and out.

Mit durchdacht gesetzter Begrünung sorgt gute Gartenplanung für einen ungestörten Blick aufs Wesentliche
With thoughtfully placed greenery, good garden planning provides an uninterrupted view of the essentials
Formschöner Gartenstil im Hamburg-Uhlenhorst
A shapely garden style is also characterized by the inclusion of its surroundings, here in Hamburg-Uhlenhorst

Exceptional ambience: The interplay of architecture and modern garden design

“In order to offer our customers exactly the same subtle, timeless luxury in garden design that they have come to expect from our properties, our project developers and architects work closely with renowned specialist companies such as the Königliche Gartenakademie in Berlin-Dahlem[1]. Together we develop holistic design concepts that include the outdoor areas in the project planning from the very beginning,” explains Dr Axel Schmitz. However, it is more than just the great cohesion of all design elements that distinguishes RALF SCHMITZ properties: “Each of our properties is based on an individual theme that permeates the design from the architecture of the residential units to the interior and the garden design. Each of our projects tells its own unique story.”

One example of these detailed concepts that combines both architecture and garden design to create an extraordinary living ambience is the ALEXANDER, an apartment building in Berlin developed by RALF SCHMITZ. The design of the building is inspired by the life and work of the natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt. To complete this architectural homage to the passionate botanist, an inviting garden was created in cooperation with the Königliche Gartenakademie. Residents and visitors can enjoy the delights of this jardin botanique on an exploratory walk through the inner courtyard of the ALEXANDER and discover a variety of tropical plants that Humboldt himself discovered and researched during his travels through Latin America and immortalised in his notes.

Entwurf für den Senkgarten im Innenhof des Wohnpalais "Alexander" in Berlin
Lush refuge: design for the sunken garden in the courtyard of the “Alexander” residential palace in Berlin-Wilmersdorf

Easy luxury: Effortless garden maintenance

Excellent garden design is also particularly noticeable when the green spaces are low-maintenance. The quicker and easier they are to care for, the more time there will ultimately be to enjoy the garden.

While owners of townhouses and the residents of some ground floor apartments are the sole owners of their green areas, the outdoor areas of an apartment building usually become the common property of the household community. In this case, no party has a special right of use, but no one bears sole responsibility for garden maintenance either. In order to ensure that the newly established household community can relax and enjoy both the attractive front of the building and the green refuge behind it, it is of utmost importance to RALF SCHMITZ to ensure that the use and maintenance of the garden is well organised when the keys are handed over.

“As part of the service package that we give to newly established household communities, we develop community rules that regulate the rights and obligations of the parties, which also include the communal outdoor areas. We also conclude contracts with reliable service companies – including for garden maintenance,” explains Dr Axel Schmitz. “Of course, the owners’ association can adjust both the communal rules and the service provider contracts at any time after internal consultation, but everything is taken care of in the first year so that the owners can first gently settle in and also come together as a community before getting involved in the organisational aspects of everyday life.”

Furthermore, RALF SCHMITZ’s project planning also anticipates all the required steps for maintenance and incorporates them into the garden design. Not only the paths around the house, but also the green spaces themselves make it easy for owners and service providers alike to show them from their best side with minimal effort.

“Even an exquisite garden can quickly become a nuisance if you don’t know how to remove the greenery after pruning or how to protect the garden furniture from rain,” says Jan Lorenz. “If the owners have to build a garden shed later on, it’s a clear sign that the process of designing the garden was limited to the appearance of the green spaces and did not include the maintenance of them in any way. In a really well-designed garden, everything has its place from the outset, from the ornamental pond to the lawn mower.”

Therefore, the project developers at RALF SCHMITZ are always in communication with the landscape gardeners and with the buyers; after all, it is their individual wishes and demands that have to be translated not only into exclusive residential units, but also into a unique, modern garden design. This results in green spaces that not only become an elegant calling card for the property, but also a private, open-air refuge. For an extraordinary living ambience, inside and out.

Bettina Schneuer

Bettina Schneuer studied law in Hamburg and then graduated from the Henri Nannen School of Journalism. She lives in Berlin and works freelance for magazines such as "Architectural Digest"

References

  1. An insight into the design principles used in the Königliche Gartenakademie's projects is provided by landscape gardener Gabriella Pape – Managing Director of the Königliche Gartenakademie since 2008 – in her book "Gebrauchsanleitung fürs Gärtnern" ("Instructions for Gardening" – Piper Verlag 2018).