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What You Need To Think About Before Designing An Outdoor Living Space

What You Need To Think About Before Designing An Outdoor Living Space

Thinking about starting a project to expand your living space? Wish you had a back yard that you could enjoy more and work in less? Then you should be getting ready for a master planning consultation! Before you lay a single patio stone or buy a lounge chair, before you grab some potted plants from the nearest big box store to fill out your garden, stop and consider what you really want from your space and how it can improve your outdoor experience.

Today we’re sharing a few important questions to ask yourself as you imagine your best outdoor space. The better you know yourself and your lifestyle, the more effective your plan will be – and the more you will love the result!

patio fire pitWhat’s Your Outdoor Lifestyle?

Are you a swimmer or do you love to toss around a basketball? Do you enjoy sitting quietly among the lovely flowers or do you go absolutely stir crazy unless you can get your hands in the dirt?

Knowing yourself is perhaps the most fundamental ingredient in planning an effective and enjoyable outdoor living space. There’s no end to the options you can choose – all of them exciting and beautiful. But that doesn’t mean they’re all right for *you*.

Sometimes things can sound like a good idea – maybe you’ve always admired magazine photos of those lush, grassy landscapes with adorable cottage furniture. But in reality, if you’re allergic to grass, hate mowing, and don’t find those cute little chairs very comfortable, you aren’t going to be enjoying your new space so much.

Your yard shouldn’t be a showpiece. It should be a place where you can live and be just as comfortable as you would in your living room.

patio pool deckWhat Do You WANT Your Outdoor Lifestyle To Be?

Of course, just because you don’t enjoy a particular activity now doesn’t mean you wouldn’t if you *could.* You may not have the opportunity to garden, swim, take relaxing strolls, play games, cook, or something else, but if you did, you know you’d love it.

As you explore the kind of outdoor lifestyle you enjoy (or not!) take a minute to explore what you wish it could be, too. Don’t be afraid to dream a little. You may feel a little nervous about caring for koi, for example, but if you love the aquatic lifestyle, a pond may be a great addition to your experience. All you need is a good plan and a little encouragement and you could be living the outdoor life of your dreams!

small pondDo You Need It All “Done Now” Or Can You Phase It In?

Just because you’re dreaming big doesn’t mean you have to do all or nothing. If you’re planning a landscape makeover for an event or occasion, you may want to go all in and put in every feature you’ve imagined.

But if you’ve got budget constraints or if you’d like to live with some small changes while growing into bigger ones, you can plan for that, too. Your master plan will account for the big picture while giving you options for how to make it all work together, now and over time.


What Existing Features Can You Work With?

Redesigning your landscape doesn’t mean you have to – or should – raze everything and start over. You’ve probably got something to work with, whether it’s a gorgeous old wood tree, an interesting boulder, a tree stump with character, or even a perfectly nice patio.

Keep an open mind about your landscape. Things you might not “see” at the moment can become assets in a good plan. A shady area can become the ideal sitting spot, or a bit of rocky ground might be just the platform for a great container garden.

Assess what surrounds you. Choose your favorite parts to work with and incorporate into your plan. Choose your least favorite parts and turn them on their heads into something spectacular!

tiered patio and deckHow Can You Make The Most Of The Space You Have?

There is a practical reality to the amount of space in your yard, so even though you may want that Olympic sized swimming pool, you have to work with the limitations you have. But often when planning a great landscape, there is one space that’s overlooked: up!

There’s no rule that says your “landscape” has to be wholly on the ground. There is plenty of vertical space at your disposal, whether for vine covered trellises or bloom covered gazebos. You can also build in tiers, with a patio at one level and a pool at another. Tiered gardens can give you more space for color and greenery while saving ground space for things like a pond or play area.

Consider how you can take advantage of three dimensions – not just two – and you may find a more beautiful way to enjoy more of what you want.

Where Will You Put Your “Stuff”?

Inevitably you’re going to have a garden tool, whether it’s a single spade or a riding mower and hedge trimmers. If you have kids or enjoy outdoor activities, you may have anything from bikes and boats to balls, rackets, skates, buckets and more.

And if you like entertaining, you may have even more stuff – chair cushions that need to be protected during a rainstorm, pillows and blankets, cookware and supplies.

Even something as simple and common as a garden hose may end up sitting in a pile next to your house, taking up space and looking less than spiffy.

No need to get rid of stuff, all you need to do is plan for the kind of storage you need. When you’re redesigning your landscape you have the perfect opportunity to build in exactly the right storage for all that stuff that could clutter up your beautiful view and detract from your efforts.

A shed can be a lot more than just a rusty metal shack. There are quite lovely designs that can include window boxes and flowers, pretty stone pathways and more. Instead of an “extra” it can look like an integrated part of your landscape. Build in storage elements for trash cans and recycling bins, for garden hoses and grill utensils, and not only will you have everything neat and organized, but the focus will be on the beauty of your space, not on the junk in it.

water feature and bambooWhat’s Your Need For Privacy?

If you live on a ten acre estate in the middle of a wooded area you may not be too worried about the neighbors peeking over the property line. But for most people, privacy is a common necessity. It’s easy to build into your landscape, and can result in some beautiful elements if you plan it in from the start.

As you consider your privacy needs, think about where you’re most likely to spend time, and how much protection you need. Fences are an option, but you can also create privacy with other elements like beautifully entwined trellises or a bamboo screen.

Tall grasses are just as beautiful as they are at effectively creating privacy. A gazebo or other partially enclosed space can create a cozy retreat.

And don’t forget auditory privacy, too. Shield conversations from other ears with a bubbling water feature or waterfall. The natural sound will mask sounds and give you a sense of coziness and sanctuary.

These are just a few of the things to consider before you start planning a new landscape or outdoor space. There’s plenty more to think about and imagine! If you’re thinking about an outdoor makeover and wonder what your space could be, get in touch for a consultation. We’ll work with you to understand all of your needs and desires, and plan the ideal space of your dreams.