Planning an Outdoor Space: Guide to Design Essentials

When planning an outdoor space be sure to combine aesthetics, comfort and functionality. It will also increase the efficiency of the building process and save you money by avoiding costly mistakes. In this article, we will discuss some must haves to planning your perfect outdoor space.

Look beyond your walls and discover livable space outdoors. Taking in fresh air can help you relax and improves your overall health. A good place to start is deciding the function of your outdoor space. If you like to entertain, ample space for guests, seating and dining with a close proximity to a cooking area is priority. You want to relax and get away from it all? Winding walkways a distance from your home that lead to a private garden with comfortable seating and a water feature to drown out the noise would suit you well. Wanna play? Your recreation area should include partial shade and a soft floor such as grass, sand or a rubberized surface. Your outdoor space can also be divided up for multiple uses. An outdoor space will lack direction and use without establishing its intended purpose. As you proceed to the planning and design phase determining function will keep you focused, then you can move on to the essentials.

Some necessities to contemplate before getting started on any outdoor living space include landscaping, hardscaping and the establishing of structures.


Now that you have an idea of what you want, you can focus on landscaping. Landscaping will include trees, flowers, plants, gates, fences, gardens and water features. Walk around your yard and determine the best place to create an outdoor living area. Take note of existing focal points to incorporate into the design. Check for the direction and location of inspiring views. Assess your yard for the best and worst sun exposure, shade and wind. Are there slopes or drainage issues you will need to correct? Do you prefer lush? Or are you low maintenance? It is beneficial to the environment to cause minimal disruption to your landscape. This will also save you money because less work will need to be done. Utilize trees for shade and reducing winds gusts. Bushes and trees can be used for privacy while smaller plants can be used as borders to direct a walkway or designate a space. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you might consider consulting a landscape designer.


Once the landscape has been planned, hardscaping will be the next step. Hardscaping includes solid foundations, deck and patio surfaces, walkways, paths, retaining walls, pool decks, outdoor fire pits, fireplaces, bars, benches and steps. It makes a stunning statement with little maintenance. There are a variety of hardscaping materials to fit any style such as natural stone, concrete (stained and stamped are popular choices), pavers, brick, tile, gravel, composite decking and wood. A solid foundation provides a sturdy option for placing furniture, it is a must have when designing an outdoor kitchen or living room. Hardscaping adds visual interest with texture and varying heights. Its environmental benefits include preventing landscape erosion from uneven soil and reducing watering. Hardscaping is a functional, durable and essential to your outdoor living space.


Outdoor structures will help maximize comfort to an outdoor living space. Pergolas, pavilions, gazebos, a trellis and arbors protect guests and space from the elements. Having an overhead covering will define the outdoor space while maximizing its use. Outdoor structures provide shade and protection from rain and wind. You can customize the size and style. Climbing plants can be used overhead for a natural feel or place a versatile retractable canopy, giving you the option to open and close when you deem necessary. Privacy is another advantage of an outdoor structure.  Temporary “walls” can be created with curtains to block out neighbors and noise. Outdoor structures will ease the transition from inside to the outdoors. They can enhance the entrance of a home, provide protection over walkways and serve as a pool changing room or cabana. Placing a roof or cover over your outdoor dining area, outdoor kitchen and living area is a must.

Planning your outdoor living space will keep you organized and guarantee you get what you want out of the space. Once you settle on the function the fun of planning and design begin. Consider all your options before you making your final decisions regarding landscaping, hardscaping and outdoor structures. Theses essentials will make sure you remain on the right path.

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