Start by defining the spaces
No matter how large or small a residential garden, there should be a sequence of experiences equivalent to an approach, an arrival, and an invitation to participate in the garden itself. But to achieve continuous physical movement through a garden, you must first identify the potential outdoor spaces or rooms that surround your home. Clues for defining outdoor rooms are often found by studying the existing conditions of a site. For instance, a wall of your house or an outbuilding may double as the wall of a garden room. Existing trees and shrubs, expanses of lawn, topographical changes, and views also define spaces. Once these outdoor spaces have been identified, you can link them so the flow from one area to another is smooth and experiential.
My own garden, which scales a steep hillside, consists of a series of rooms: a small, semi-public room at street level; an entry courtyard near the front door; a small, terraced area for dining; a courtyard garden out back; and an intimate sitting area beneath an arbor near the corner of the lot, just big enough for two people (see the Site plan, below). These areas are connected by a series of paths and steps wending their way through the property, often creating garden rooms of their own.