Are you looking for a summer getaway, a place you can unwind, leave your cares behind, enjoy the outdoors and bask in whatever your favorite summer pastime is? Well, look no further than your own back yard!
Before you go making vacation reservations or snapping up plane tickets, how about making your own outdoor living space THE place that the whole family will want to be? It can happen! And today we’re going to share some summer (and quite possibly even all-season) essentials to add to your landscape that will turn your yard into a true personal retreat.
Summer may be synonymous with poolside entertainment, but that’s not the only way to bring the delights of water to your outdoor space. Water in just about any form – from the largest koi-filled pond to the most subtle trickle of a garden bubbler – adds a dimension to your space that you truly can’t get any other way.
Water brings visual beauty, in its crisp sparkle and soothing flow. And it brings auditory pleasure as it bubbles, cascades, splashes and spills. It can be restful and calming, giving you the perfect reason to sit and relax for a while. And it can be a gateway for other enjoyable hobbies like koi-gazing and water gardening.
Water also adds an excellent privacy element to your space, blunting loud noises like street traffic, and masking conversations between different groups of people.
As an added perk, it can attract other beauty to your yard, like butterflies, birds, frogs, and other critters looking for a cooling respite.
If you’re looking to add only one thing to your space that can make a tremendous impact, consider the myriad ways that water can be incorporated – fountains, ponds, bubbling columns, streams, waterfalls, patio water gardens, spill bowls and more!
If you want a restful space, then you need a space where you can actually rest! That means including the right seating for the occasion. Before you take a trip to your local big box store or buy the first outdoor sofa that you find, consider that seating can make or break your experience.
For outdoor living, you need to take the same care choosing furniture as you would for your living room sofa or dining room table. After all, you want to spend time enjoying it, not just looking at it from a window!
That means choosing seating that is both comfortable and appropriate to its task. A deep, soft sofa may be wonderful for lounging with a book or a friend, but it won’t be very conducive to serving dinner. It’s likely you’ll need multiple seating areas for multiple purposes – relaxing, dining, chatting, koi-gazing, or whatever other outdoor pastime you enjoy.
With all the options available, you should never settle for anything less than exactly what suits your lifestyle. Whether a long picnic-style dining table, a couple of Adirondack chairs, some rustic wood benches, a chaise, comfy sofa, hammock, swing, or perhaps even a bed!
Don’t be afraid to complement seating with extra pillows and blankets. That makes it easy to go from daytime to evening enjoyment, and even season to season.
A bright, open patio is lovely for a day of sunning, but not everyone likes to be roasted. And eventually you’ll need to cool off, too. There are plenty of ways to achieve shade, not just for temporary respite, but for all-day enjoyment.
The simplest addition you can make is to invest in a good freestanding patio umbrella. Large umbrellas that can be adjusted at multiple angles to accommodate the sun will make your patio time much more pleasant. And they can be moved to wherever you need them most – beside a lounge chair or dining table for example.
For a more permanent solution, look for an awning, overhang, pergola or gazebo. All of these options make it easy to add shade to any space in your yard.
A pergola is both functional and lovely against your house. A gazebo can be included anywhere – poolside, pond-side, abutting a patio, at the end of a hidden pathway, or in a garden. Allow it to grow over with vines and blooms, and you’ve got a beautiful shaded spot to enjoy the outdoors any time.
Don’t overlook the simplest solution of all – a lovely old shade tree! As you plan your outdoor space, consider how features like seating areas can be designed to take advantage of what Mother Nature already offers.
Shelter is a bit different than shade in that it provides you a space to enjoy even during inclement weather. A patio umbrella may be great for getting out of the sun on a hot day, but it’s not likely to do you as much good against the rain.
That’s where structural shelters come in, and where outdoor living really starts to take shape. With an outdoor roof, overhang, or covered patio or porch, you can truly create an outdoor room, complete with seating areas, carpeting, overhead fans, décor and more.
Creating shelter means that you can enjoy your space even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and it makes your space more versatile throughout the seasons. Imagine sitting on your comfortable outdoor sofa, with a cozy blanket on a snowy winter evening, the same way you can enjoy it during summer.
Add in a fireplace or a television, and you may forget to go back inside completely!
No outdoor space is complete without lighting, whatever the season. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets – in fact, that may be when it’s just getting started!
Lighting serves multiple purposes. It adds an undeniable ambiance, but it also improves safety, too. Pathway lighting, lighting around a pool area, and illumination over doorways, tables, cooking areas and other high-use locations will make it easier to safely continue activities in those areas after dark.
As for ambiance, there is so much you can achieve with lighting that it would be a shame to stick to anything as mundane as a couple of pathway lights!
String lights above a patio or dining area add charm and coziness. Moonlighting high up in trees will cast a lovely glow on the ground below even on the cloudiest night. Lanterns along patio edges or atop stone walls and pillars, spotlights highlighting artwork, ground lighting illuminating interesting shrubbery, hidden bulbs adding a glimpse of garden – all of these can be incorporated to set the mood and enhance your enjoyment.
Like water, there are many ways to make fire a part of your summertime landscape. And like water, this is one addition you can certainly enjoy year round.
A cooking area is a great place to start. Go as simple as a grill, or as elaborate as a full outdoor kitchen. Consider how you might want to enjoy outdoor dining – will you be serving quick snacks or full meals? – so you can choose the features that work best for you.
A fireplace is another great option, for both cooking and ambiance. Toast some s’mores, add a pizza oven, or just sit beside a crackling fire – any season! – and enjoy its pleasant, relaxing glow.
Finally, don’t overlook the pleasure that a fire pit can bring. Even this simple addition has so many options. There are portable patio varieties, and custom built natural stone pits for more permanent additions. Either way, a fire pit is a great place to gather during summer evenings for good conversation and good fun.
Summer is in full swing, but it’s not too late to add some landscape features than can enhance your enjoyment. And done right, they’ll be enhancements that you can enjoy long into fall and winter until summer comes again.
If you’d like to know more about how your landscape can become a summertime – and all-season – retreat for you and your family, book a consultation with us and let’s talk about making those dreams a reality.