Planning an Outdoor Space: The Must-Have Essentials for Every Outdoor Space

Proper preparation when planning an outdoor space will ensure a personal retreat that meets all your needs, expresses personal style and provides long lasting enjoyment. This requires you give careful consideration to the ‘must-haves’ in the space before letting your imagination run wild with thoughts of outdoor home theaters, pizza ovens and built-in wine coolers (this last one may be an exception).

These three essential features need to be included in your plans for a functional, comfortable and safe outdoor living space:

Planning an outdoor space-hardscaping design
Utopia Landscape Design

A hardscape design that perfectly suits the design of your outdoor living space will be one of the most important decisions you make during this process. Your outdoor room, if designed right, will serve as a multi-functional area: cooking, entertaining, dining and of course, relaxing. As a result, you will want a hardscape that is both durable and attractive.

In terms of material, a wide variety of options are available, here are just a few: stamped concrete, pavers, natural stone and brick. Locally sourced material is usually the best choice, not only for price, but the natural colors used in the product will usually match the surrounding environment and plant life.

It is important to not overrun your entire yard with hardscaping features. Think about the types of activities you intend on hosting and the landscaping you envision in your design. Make sure the color palette matches with existing infrastructure and design features of your home, don’t forget to include your interior décor. Hardscaping design is a necessary component in every outdoor design; its greatest asset lies in its ability to compliment landscaping features.

Planning an outdoor space - Landscaping
Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

Of course, landscaping is the darling of outdoor design. The manicured practice turns the beauty of nature into a living piece of art, adding serenity and calmness to any outdoor space. Use existing features to inspire your design, this will help you determine which areas will be landscaped and what function they will serve.

Prioritize your needs and wants. Do you need a play area for children and pets or desire a vegetable and herb garden? Measure the space and use a diagram to organize and define spaces. Before selecting trees and plants, be honest about whether you have a green thumb or prefer a low-maintenance yard. If you are environmentally conscious, select native, low-water plants which add natural beauty while reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. If you want an elaborate landscape and if your budget allows it, consider hiring a professional landscape designer.

 Outdoor Structures
Planning an outdoor space - outdoor structures
Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Pergolas, gazebos and arbors are just some of the structures that define an outdoor room, provide shade, and create architectural intrigue. Adding a canopy or retractable shade will enhance the value of the structure by providing extra rain and sun protection. When choosing a location for the structure, consider your pre-planning preparations to guide the decision making process. There are a variety of different outdoor structure solutions that serve different functions. Consider all the benefits and possible drawbacks of each one by doing some research on their construction, cost and function.

With a little bit of forethought you can create an outdoor room enjoyable year-round. Planning the ‘must-haves’ first will provide clarity regarding potential could-haves.