STAY-CATIONS: 10 Tips for designing your outdoor living space
The front yard is the showpiece to give your home curb appeal. But the backyard is yours to create a sanctuary to relax, entertain and escape. It is your place to enjoy the seasons and feel like you are on vacation. Don’t make the mistake of haphazardly building a deck and slapping a garden border around it. Consider the entire space and what you want your yard to provide for you and your family and friends.
What do you want in your yard? Imagine a playground for kids, or a pool. How about a cozy retreat with an entertaining area that includes comfortable seating around a fire pit. Think about a dining area and even a kitchen area. What materials do you like — brick pavers, water, and sustainable plants? Be honest about your level of involvement in terms of time, money and maintenance.
2. Look Around:
Do a walk about and see what you like and don’t like about your yard. Keep the 100 year old tree; get rid of sagging deck; include a shed, outdoor shower or a garden in the plan and consider the orientation of play area, pool or lounge chairs based on the suns position.
3. City and Neighborhood Association Rules:
Your city or homeowner's association may have specific regulations, like maximum fence height or projects that require permits.
4. Draw up a Plan, on Paper:
A plan provides a birds-eye view of your overall project, which can then be completed in logical steps. Designers often draw bubbles to represent generic spaces like a patio, playground, garage and pool, and then link the bubbles together with pathways, lawn areas and gardens.
5. How Spaces Relate:
Each individual space should flow into the next, moving people from the front yard to back, from a primary patio to a secondary patio. Entryways, pathways and exits all play a role in drawing people into the next space. You can create the impression of separate spaces by simply changing the floor material or pattern, or by elevating one portion slightly above the other to establish distinct "rooms" without disrupting the flow. (If you are having trouble with the plan, consider hiring a professional, at least for the planning portion.)
6. Look out your windows:
Check the plan from inside so your outdoor space will bring you pleasure every day, even when you are inside. From inside your home, your backyard should be artwork in the windows. Start with the kitchen window. Then look at traffic patterns from the kitchen or mudroom. Make sure your plan allows you to move people in and out.
7. Fine-Tune Each Area:
Zoom into each "room" in your plan to fix any shortcomings and implement your small-scale dreams. If the patio area is near an unsightly view, draw in a fence or green privacy screen. If the swing set will face the afternoon sun, turn it sideways. Does the garden area need a little oomph? Consider adding an arbor for an entryway. This is where you focus on wish-list details as well. If you want a low-maintenance yard with a small environmental impact, plan low-water plants in the garden area and think about swapping out some grassy areas for native grass or pebbles.
8. Back Up and Use Your Wide Lens
Now look at your yard in context, both in relation to the house and to itself. The flowers, hardscape and even lawn become the wallpaper of your outdoor room. Choose furniture with the overall color palate in mind.
9. Execute in Logical Stages
You can buy and do as little or as much as you like now or in the future. But you always know what you need because you have an overall comprehensive plan. Work on one area at a time, but make sure you're always thinking ahead. So if you know you want an outdoor kitchen, don’t wait to install gas hookups. Since the more cost effective thing to do is install those while the ground is already dug up. With a comprehensive plan, you'll save yourself heartache, time and money, and you'll have a beautiful yard when it's all finished.
10. Purchase Quality Outdoor Furnishings
Buy your outdoor furnishings from a reputable retailer who sells only the better manufacturers with warranties and a reputation of standing by their products in case of rust and wear. Be sure you can get replacements parts and fabrics in the future.