Curves and Arcs

Curves and arcs are effectively used to connect walkways and other spaces or forms having different angles. They also work equally well to enclose a core space and provide social interaction, by turning people inwardly, and towards each other.

That looks like how curves and arcs were used here at this Scottsdale xeriscape demonstration garden, part of Chaparral Park. Design (I think) by Christy Ten Eyck’s office, now based in Austin TX.

I first learned this principle in a soph design class we all took, lovingly retitled as “[Pain in the] Aspects of Design.” Or maybe it was another 1 credit hour class, “Introduction to Design”? 1985 is hazy to me, but you get the idea…

Photos from 4/23/19.

Chap Park-Google Aerial

The below photos are from the right side of the above Google aerial view. The main circle the arc forms relate to are underneath the tan fabric shading. The concrete water feature is the focal point and the center of the circle and most arcs, below.



The water feature is a circle, as is the adjacent paving area, only it’s partly segments of a circle at the edges.


The arcs of the seat walls vary in height, so people of different heights can enjoy one section or another, plus they add some relief on a mostly flat area.



From walking this xeriscape garden, I couldn’t tell if these arcs related to the center of the fountain, but my guess is no. They do harden the edges of the walkways and provide a place to sit.



These gabion walls don’t seem to retain any grade changes, but they reinforce the curved walkway and provide spatial definition to the planting beyond.


Of course, the trees have a simple groundplane of crushed gravel and decomposed granite, instead of being overplanted and less maintainable.

This works on a large scale as this with arid-region trees like those palo verdes, but it can be translated to small spaces, too.

A mistake made by many desert designers is to pack in plants under all trees, even if those trees are xeric natives and require no heavily-irrigated plantings to help them survive. That mode of thought believes with religious fervor that less is less, while in nature in the desert, trees often grow along arroyos just like the above photo, though spaced more unevenly.

It’s best to have one’s desert eyes on in the desert! That spending time to think about why and how to use powerful forms like arcs and curves.


“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4 Replies to “Curves and Arcs”

  1. Curious why so much turf grass in a xeriscape garden. I like the flow but it seems like too much hardscape and not enough plants.

    I think it’s for the rotating dog park areas and general park, but I’m not sure how that all works. I’ll post on another area or two, as there’s a good deal of non-turf and hardscape plantings.

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  2. Hi David,
    I’m a landscape architect too. I like your blog! …I like your honest communication, design appreciation and good photos of natural areas whether manmade or nature. thanks so much for sharing.

    Thanks for commenting, Laurie. I do enjoy bringing up what I see, no matter if I’m the only one. I’m fortunate to be in Phoenix for the summer, as there are many, many good and poor examples of horticulture to bring up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the way you describe things. the design makes more sense when I read your comments and descriptions. Keep it up!

    Thanks, Señor Blanco. I’m just glad my descriptions don’t bore everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

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