Warmer weather is here and you’re ready to spruce things up outside. But wait! Before you set foot in the nursery or start thinking about barbecues and outdoor furniture, it’s best to do some planning. Just follow these 7 basic design tips and you’ll be glad you did!
Design Tip #1: Maximize the Space
Dust off your old measuring tape or better yet, use Google Earth to determine the amount of space you have to work with. If you don’t have enough room to include all the amenities you want, study your alternatives such as modifying existing contours, creating levels, adding a raised deck, or removing a few trees. Sometimes a few simple land alterations can add a lot of square footage.
Design Tip #2: Track Sun and Shade Patterns
Know where the sun and shade hits your space throughout the day. If you are in need of shade, include an overhead structure or block late afternoon sun with deciduous trees. If you are a sun lover like me, be sure there are plenty of sun rays available. If not, you may need to re-shape or select a different location.
Design Tip #3: Know Your Materials
Concrete, stone, sand, crushed rock…there are so many choices! Select material combinations to help shape your desired ambiance. Wood materials give a warm cozy feel, and cut stone tends to create a more Tuscan ambiance. Also consider long-term maintenance. If low maintenance is what you desire, stamped concrete is easy to take care of and available in many colors and textures.
Design Tip #4: Screen for Privacy
There are many ways to add character to conventional privacy solutions. Build a cinder-block wall, paint it blue, add plants, hang a mirror and wha-la, instant character! If that’s not your style, perhaps incorporate climbing vines on a wood fence, a pergola with enclosed walls, or an attractive grove of evergreen trees.
Design Tip #5: Have fun with Color
Begin by taking an inventory of interior colors, select your favorites and incorporate outdoors. This technique is often used by designers to bring the indoors, outdoors. If the interior colors don’t excite you, then choose colors that blend or enhance the exterior surroundings. Be creative! Incorporate splashes of color with decorative pots, furniture, seat cushions, shade umbrellas, paints, stains, and flowering plants.
Design Tip #6: Grow edibles
By adding potted herbs, cherry tomatoes, fruit trees or whatever your favorites are, your outdoor space becomes a little more delightful. And…edibles are a great way to encourage children to get involved in outdoor projects!
Design Tip #7: Fabulous Furniture
Outdoor furniture draws attention and instantly transforms an outdoor space into a comfortable and stylish entertainment room. When it comes to furniture, it’s important to focus on the ambiance or style you’re trying to create. Choose comfortable, easy-to-move furniture that holds up to the elements.
Have fun and enjoy your outdoor room!
If you need design assistance, contact me (Susan) at BauerCombs & Associates, Inc..
For our long distance clients, we design via Skype.
“Planning Your Outdoor Room: 7 Basic Design Tips” author: Susan Combs Bauer, landscape architect and president of BauerCombs & Associates, Inc. “Connecting People to Nature by Design”.
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Susan Combs Bauer, Landscape Architect www.bauercombs.com
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