You’re probably already familiar with creating indoor spaces that fit your personal style and everyday needs. From countertops to paint hues, window dressings and floor coverings, furniture and appliances – we bet you’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about how to design the space inside your home.
The right design means a lot to your enjoyment, and can completely change how you use a room. Everything from the layout and flow, to the tiny details and personal touches, makes your space not only look great, but function effectively. It’s probably not too surprising then, to learn that the same principles apply to your outdoor space.
Everything from the colors of the tulips to the size of a single stone will affect how much you use and enjoy your space. Just think of all that green lawn you see so often surrounding a home. For generations it was considered a status symbol, which makes sense given its roots in European aristocracy.
But just how useful is that space, anyway? How much time do you spend out on the lawn, besides all that time behind a mower? And isn’t the maintenance – watering, fertilizing, seeding – a little bit tiresome?
Today we’d like you to think differently about your landscape. Instead of seeing it as a separate part of your home, we want you to envision it as an extension of your living space. A room – without a ceiling or walls – where you can work, live, play and spend time.
In this three-part series we’re exploring ways to design a landscape that reflects your personality, style, hobbies, needs, and even your emotional states. Here are some ideas to help you start thinking about how your yard – front and back! – can be designed to look stunning and offer you a space to live exactly the way you want to.
1. For The Introvert
Are you the kind of person who just wants to come home to your quiet place at the end of a long day? Shut out the noise, the demands, and everyone else – and spend some time in your own company?
If a personal oasis sounds like it’s right up your alley, then these ideas are for you! Even if all you see as you gaze out your window is an empty expanse of open yard, that doesn’t mean you can’t have privacy and solitude built in.
Great design will create the spaces you need – and in this case, those spaces will be private and cozy. A vine-covered gazebo, or a small seating area screened by bamboo are both great options when peace and quiet are on the agenda.
Tall grasses like Maiden Grass and Miscanthus make great buffers, as do shrubs like Sumac and Fothergilla, all of which bring unique colors and characteristics to each season. Private spaces can be created to enclose a reading nook, adjoin a pond, surround a patio, or just about anywhere that pleases you.
A combination of plants, natural stone, screening, comfortable seating, soothing sounds and lovely views can create pleasant solitude. And even simple touches, like a winding stone path to your hideaway, will enhance the feeling that you’ve entered your own private retreat.
2. For The Social Butterfly
If chilling out with a group of friends is more your speed, there’s plenty you can do to create a fun and functional group space. In fact, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have both a quite place and one for social gatherings in the same yard!
For those times when you want to share a cocktail or host a book club, catch up on conversation or sit back and have a good laugh, you’ll need to incorporate the right landscape elements. That can include a fire pit or fireplace for gathering, a natural wood dining-style table for feasting, or an outdoor television mounted beneath a pergola for midnight movies and snacking.
Whatever you choose, always include plenty of comfortable seating – oversized sectionals with lots of pillows, deep Adirondack chairs, circular groupings of armchairs. Include a light source for evening gatherings, whether patio lanterns, lighting installed beneath benches or under the ledges of retaining walls, moonlighting within trees, or pathway lights to guide visitors to your backyard getaway.
You can even include privacy elements like bamboo screening, tall grasses or border shrubs to keep your party cozy. And don’t forget the soothing sounds of water. A bubbling column, pondless waterfall or patio pond will add ambiance and provide some white noise to help mask the sound of conversation.
3. For The Daydreamer
As a daydreamer, you probably have something in common with the introvert, insofar as a desire for a calming environment where you can hear yourself think. You also need an environment that gets your creative juices flowing, something that engages your senses and gives your mind the space it needs to relax and open up.
For you, a multi-sensory garden that includes unique textures, like those of soft, swaying grasses and rustic tree bark will draw your eye. The sound of running water and babbling waterfalls will soothe your ear. Pleasant scents, like those of lilac, lavender and summer-fresh basil will boost creativity. And your favorite colors – whether in muted and monochromatic shades of white or pale pink, or bold hues of red and yellow, will round out your experience.
Consider seating for comfort, in the form of soft chaises or pillow-laden benches, as well as meandering stone pathways for dreamy garden strolls.
And if stargazing makes you feel dreamy, then imagine how much you’ll enjoy koi-gazing! Small or large, a koi pond will keep you engaged for hours, delighted by the antics of your prized fish and other wildlife that’s bound to stop by, from butterflies to birds and frogs.
4. For The Hibernator
Not a fan of the long, cold, dull days of winter? If you prefer to spend December through April in front of a fireplace with a heap of blankets thrown over you, there’s a landscape for you, too!
Let’s start with the fact that even if you’re not a winter person, you might be surprised by how much you can enjoy the outdoors in a beautiful space. Not every landscape is bland and dormant during winter. Designed well, your landscape should bring new colors, textures and beauty throughout each of the four seasons.
Plantings like Red Twig Dogwood or Winter Berry bring stunning colors and textures when the rest of the garden is asleep. Tall grasses add texture and soothing sounds as they swish and sway in the winter winds. Hardscapes of natural stone – from patios to rock gardens – add visual interest and texture all year long.
And don’t discount the effectiveness of a water feature during winter. Whether running or frozen, a bubbler or waterfall is a visual delight.
For warmth, add cozy seating around a fire pit or fireplace and be sure to include lots of warm blankets!
Even if you don’t plan to set foot outside, your landscape can still be part of your winter experience. When you look out your living room window, or gaze over the top of a coffee mug into your yard each morning, what do you see? If your landscape is well-planned, then your view is magnificent!
Even from within your home you should be able to enjoy the beauty of your waterfalls and water features, the color of winter foliage, the slope of a stone and the dance of grass. A beautiful landscape is an immersive experience, whether you’re walking through lush summer gardens or enjoying a snowfall from the comfort of your home.
Of course, we’ve only tapped the potential of a landscape designed around your personality. You know yourself best – and you’re bound to have lots of ways to describe yourself! So if you’ve been imagining how your outdoor space can become a reflection of you, contact us for a consultation and let’s talk. We’ll listen to your story, get acquainted with your preferences, and design a landscape that has “you” written all over it.