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 plan your perfect outdoor space.

Look beyond your walls and discover livable space outdoors. Taking in the 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 proximity to a cooking area is a priority. Want to relax and get away from it all? Winding walkways that lead to a private garden with comfortable seating and a water feature would suit you well. Want to 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 the 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 establishment of structures.


Now that you have an idea of what you want, you can focus on landscaping. Landscaping can 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, shade, and wind exposure. 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 wind 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 functional, durable, and essential to your outdoor living space.


Outdoor structures will help maximize comfort in an outdoor living space. Pergolas, pavilions, gazebos, trellis and arbours 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 begins. Consider all your options before making a final decision regarding landscaping, hardscaping, and outdoor structures. These essentials will make sure you remain on the right path.

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