In this three-part series, we’re encouraging you to think differently about your outdoor space. Instead of seeing your yard as a separate part of your home, we want you to think of it as an extension of your home. Just another room to decorate and enjoy, albeit one without windows and walls!
In part 1 we shared ways to create a landscape that suits your personality and style, whether you’re an introvert or the life of the party, a summer daydreamer or a winter hibernator. Today we invite you to think about your lifestyle, and how your yard – big or small – can be a part of your everyday enjoyment of life.
See if you recognize yourself in any of these lifestyles. Does one suit you? Or do you have eclectic interests? Whatever the answer, there is a beautiful, functional outdoor space waiting for you! From the selection of flowers to the choice of lighting, a great landscape design is the only thing standing between you and four-seasons of outdoor enjoyment.
1. For The Entertainer
Whether you plan to host a family dinner or the best neighborhood barbecue anyone has ever seen, there are certain landscape elements you won’t want to be without.
If entertaining is your passion, your outdoor space should reflect that in everything from the choice of seating, to the use of patios, the addition of fire pits, the design of garden pathways and so much more.
An outdoor kitchen is a great place to start, and it can be anything from a simple grill built into a beautiful natural stone enclosure, to an elaborate cooking area with plumbing and refrigeration. What you choose will depend on your lifestyle, budget and space.
Seating is a must, whether a large picnic dining table or a cluster of chairs around a central point. Comfort is important, as is the ability to have a conversation, set down a beverage, and enjoy a pleasant view. Including a patio fountain or a small bubbler can provide a soothing sound that brings intimacy and masks conversations for added privacy.
Consider widening walkways if you plan to host guests frequently, and especially if a stroll around your gardens is on the agenda. Wider pathways mean two or even three people can walk abreast, enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company at the same time.
Don’t fret if you have a small yard. You might be surprised by just how spacious it can become with the right design. Adding multiple levels with patios and retaining walls, going vertical, and using color and texture in strategic ways can turn even the smallest yard into an entertainer’s dream.
In larger spaces, adding structures like gazebos, multi-tiered patios, decking beside a pond, or a swimming pool with a waterfall can create diverse areas for groups to gather and enjoy time together. Join distinct areas together with inviting pathways, incorporate lighting to encouraging people to linger after sunset, and you may just become the neighborhood’s party central.
For The Night Owl
Whether you like to entertain at night, or enjoy a cool evening breeze and some quiet time on your own, the right design can completely transform your experience. Perhaps the single most important element of nighttime design is lighting.
But we’re not talking about mere pathway lighting, or a fixture hanging above a porch. There is so much you can do with outdoor lighting that you might be surprised by just how magical and inviting your space can be.
Yes, you’ll want to add functional lighting to guide your evening strolls, but you’ve got a lot more options than just the “runway lighting” effect. From small lights embedded in pathways, to hanging garden lanterns, columns and pillars, “mushroom” lights and more, there are myriad beautiful fixtures to include as either subtle or bold design elements. But that’s not all.
There’s house-washing, which bathes your home in a pleasant glow that you and any passerby can appreciate. There’s moonlighting, with lights installed high up in treetops to cast a natural illumination on even the cloudiest night. There are lanterns for patios, and under-seat lighting for benches. There’s dramatic lighting with spotlights and fanciful lighting with string lights.
And don’t forget the beauty and enjoyment that a fire pit or fireplace can bring. A fire feature will create a gathering place for friends and family, or a peaceful place for evening solitude.
Lighting sets the mood and creates the ambiance that will draw you outdoors. With great lighting design, we bet you’ll spend a lot more time enjoying your yard after the sun goes down.
For The Sun Worshipper
Are you the kind of person who revels in bronzing yourself in the sun? Or do you simply savor the feeling of its cheering light on your face? If getting outside to soak up the warmth and glow of the sun is right up your alley, then the design of your landscape and the elements included in it will have a tremendous impact on just how much you enjoy your days outdoors.
Take advantage of sunny locations by installing a patio where you can lounge and soak up a few rays, or a wading pool for afternoon floats. Temper the heat with the addition of a strategically placed pergola or something as simple as a folding umbrella.
Be sure to incorporate gardens that appreciate the sun as much as you do, whether you enjoy digging in your vegetable patch or just want a few pleasant moments to bask in the colors of your wildflower garden and the butterflies it brings.
Be sure to include pathways for strolling and casual seating for enjoying a mid-afternoon respite.
Consider how the sun moves across your yard and home. Are some spots shady in the morning and sunny in the afternoon? Do others get full-sun for most of the day? Understanding the ebb and flow of the surrounding environment will help you choose the types of plants, and locations of design elements like patios and ponds, and ultimately lead to more enjoyment during the course of a day and season to season.
For The Fitness Buff
Do you love to get outdoors and play? From swimming to yoga, basketball to putting, there are plenty of ways to incorporate fun and games into your yard.
Start by dissuading yourself of the notion that a big, green lawn is the best way to go. It’s probably the least interesting, highest-maintenance option we can think of! Decide what type of activities you enjoy – and what kind you want to enjoy – in your yard.
A pool is an obvious addition to your space, but it’s important to consider the type. A lap pool won’t be any more fun for a diver than a diving pool will be for a long distance swimmer! Pools can be designed and customized around your personal interests, with space for swimming, diving, playing water volleyball, or lounging in a whirlpool afterwards.
If sports are your passion, there are plenty of landscape options to help you enjoy them. A basketball or tennis court, a putting green, a balance beam or pull up rings, can all help you engage in your passion.
For the daring, incorporate natural elements like reclaimed wood or strategically sized and shaped boulders for climbing, balancing and lifting. They’ll not only give you that paleo-stye workout you crave, but will look great as part of a natural landscape.
In fact, why not just bring the whole gym outdoors? Anything from a treadmill to an elliptical, stationary bike, or weight machine can be brought into an outdoor space, complete with protective roof, lighting, and mounted TV for motivation.
With a design that ensures your equipment is protected form the elements, you can enjoy a permanent outdoor fitness space any time of the year. Include the right shrubbery, or some bamboo screening for privacy, and not only will you feel like you’re out in the wild right there on your treadmill, but you won’t have to deal with gawking neighbors.
For less permanent options, a simple patio or mulched space – covered or uncovered – can be your go-to spot for morning tai chi, yoga or a good workout with resistance bands.
Wouldn’t a running waterfall, a great view of your garden, and fresh air be a lot more fun during your workout than a stuffy, and let’s face it, stinky, gym? We think so!
For The Gardener
If you have the greenest of thumbs, you’re probably spending plenty of time outdoors already and plan to skip this part. But wait! Sure, it’s easy (for you!) to get a garden growing and you know just when to weed and when to mulch, but have you considered all of the other gardening opportunities you may be missing?
There’s a lot more than just “in the ground” gardening, whether a flower bed or vegetable patch, that you can enjoy indoors, outdoors, and all year long.
Container gardens have myriad advantages, and don’t require a single patch of dirt. Containers themselves can be works of art, and you can plant in one or more of various sizes, shapes and colors to make a statement you couldn’t with just seeds in the earth. They also have the advantage of being mobile, which means you can bring them indoors during winter.
Raised beds are both an architectural and functional way to enjoy gardening. If your knees aren’t loving the ground or bending is challenging, raising beds is a great way to bring the garden up to you.
And don’t forget water gardening! A pond is perfect for the hobbyist gardener, with marginals to tend along the edges, and floaters like lilies and lotus that you can enjoy all summer and bring indoors to nurture over the winter.
If you want something a bit smaller, a patio pond or portable water garden can do double duty as an outdoor treasure during warm months, and a fully functioning desk or countertop accessory during cold!
These were just a few examples to inspire you to think about how your outdoor space can become a more integral part of your life. Now it’s your turn to imagine what your space can be! What activities do you enjoy? How do you wish you could spend time outdoors? What would make you happy there?
Whether you have a clear vision or you’re just scratching the surface of possibilities, contact us for a consultation. Our landscape architects are here to design and build an outdoor living space that you can truly love and enjoy all year long.