From thoughtfully landscaped grounds to immaculately manicured gardens, what lies just outside the front door is what makes a house a home, finds Iyna Bort Caruso.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture, sought to channel the “genius of a place” in his projects. He believed every habitat had a spirit of its own and accessing that quality was the most meaningful way to connect with one’s surroundings.

At their best, designed landscapes appear spontaneous – an extension of nature’s best expression. On private estates, these elegant statements go beyond initial visual impressions or curb appeal. Gardens are a full sensory experience of colours, scents and textures. They lure you inside and guide you through multiple spaces that, by turns, can be meditative, enchanting and surprising. “Gardens are very experiential and very ethereal,” says Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles, who has worked throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

In reinterpreting the environment, designers consider the site, orientation of the sun, climate and architectural style of the residence. Landscapes can also be used to camouflage flaws. For homes that lack strong aesthetic merit, “landscaping can become the dominant design element that allows residences to recede and fade into the environment,” says Jungles.

Gardens are points of personal pride and neighbourhood identity. In cities like Charleston, South Carolina, where estates are known for their flourishing azaleas, oleanders, camellias, crepe myrtles and magnolias, “people spend a good deal of time outside on their porches and in their gardens,” says Daniel Ravenel of Sotheby’s International Realty in Charleston. “It’s part of our way of life.”

Even in dense urban settings, rooftop gardens, courtyards and balconies enable residents to feel connected to nature. They soften the city’s hard edges while providing an oasis of calm.

Olmsted well recognised the effect. “Gradually and silently the charm comes over us,” he said on a trip to England in 1850. “We know not exactly where or how.”

New York-based writer Iyna Bort Caruso has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday, among others.

Charleston

South Carolina

This grand lakefront estate exudes the elegance and grace of an historic English manor. Charming gothic features throughout the home are tastefully and thoughtfully combined with the highest modern technologies to create the ultimate retreat. The expansive grounds are comprised of a unique synergy of lakeside views with sophisticated gardens.

$5,900,000 Property ID: ZLP2Y8 | sir.com

Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty

Daniel Ravenel +1 843 343 59

Bridgehampton

New York

(Above) Combining the elegance of a royal European country estate with the amenities of a five-star resort, Three Ponds Farm offers an unparalleled private residence on nearly 60 picturesque acres. Meticulously designed and executed with the finest imported materials, the eight-bedroom, twelve-bath manor home with guest wing and staff quarters is a tour de force of custom luxury design and contemporary flair by renowned architect Allan Greenberg. The beautiful outdoor oasis includes magnificent formal gardens, a rose garden with orangery and over 7,000 specimen trees.

Price Upon Request Property ID: 0036492 | sir.com

Sotheby’s International Realty – Bridgehampton Brokerage

Dana Trotter +1 631 379 3236

Las Vegas

Nevada

(Left) Built to the most exacting standards and exemplifying graceful and symmetrical design, the Rameses Estate took over five years to remodel. This singular property comprises a main residence of over 13,000-square-feet with six bedroom suites and nine bathrooms, as well as a private office, screening room, billiard room, art room and four-car garage. Venturing beyond the picturesque residence, guests find themselves in formal gardens that flow into expansive lawns, private walkways and romantic rose gardens.

$28,000,000 Property ID: 69JFS5 | sir.com

Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty

Kristen Routh Silberman +1 702 467 7100

Houston

Texas

(Left and above) With the planting of over 20,000 trees, shrubs and flowers through the years, the spectacular Emerald Lake Estate is a veritable paradise with a resort-like ambience. This meticulously developed estate boasts the private 25-acre Emerald Lake, a world-class bass lake with ten islands, a nine-acre Japanese garden and a seven-acre botanical garden with over 5,000 azaleas, both designed by landscape architect Keiji Asakura.

$24,500,000 Property ID: TXS73G | sir.com

Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty

Lauren Haass +1 210 294 2728 

CÔte D’Azur

France

(Right) On the Golf de Biot, discover this sublime and rare residence designed by architect André Svetchine. This beautiful domain is entirely enclosed, offering exceptional living amidst French gardens, ponds and olive trees. The main property provides spacious living opening onto two terraces; one is covered and overlooks the French gardens while the other overlooks the park.

Price Upon Request Property ID: CA4972 | sir.com

Côte D’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty

Peter Illovsky +33 0 4 92 92 12 88