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Designing Outdoor Living Spaces

How do you begin to design a patio or outdoor living space that suites the needs of your family? There are a few basic questions to ask yourself before a preliminary layout is created. Here are some things to think about:

1. What activities do you wish to accommodate within the living space?

- This could could be grilling, enjoying time around a fire, eating meals at a table, spending time in a hot tub, entertaining guests on the weekends, etc...

2. How much privacy is desired?

- How much privacy you may wish for depends on your lifestyle. If you have kids or pets that play in the yard, an open line of sight may be desired so you can keep an eye on them while hanging out on the patio. If kids or pets are out of the question, using plant material or fencing to create a more intimate setting is a great way of screening the living space from neighbors and nearby roads or walkways.

3. Which direction is the future living area facing?

- For instance, if the area is primarily on the south or west side of the residence, some sort of shade structure should be taken into consideration. This could be a pergola incorporated within the patio, an awning of sorts or a shade tree planted in the right spot to provide cooling shade coverage over the living space.

4. Where else do you spend time in the yard?

- Access is important as well when designing a patio or living space. If there is a faucet and hose that you use every other day, it doesn't make sense to build a sitting wall on the perimeter of the patio on that side without some sort of access to the hose. You don't want to be walking all the way around the patio to reach the hose. Gardens, sheds, side yards and any other areas that are frequented often should be accessible from the patio.

After these questions have been thought through, now you can begin designing the actual layout of outdoor living area. Keep in mind things like spacial distances, creating smaller areas within the overall space, vertical accents, functionality, future plans or additions and drainage.

Once the preliminary design is completed, things like color schemes, lighting, plant selection garden bed layouts and living space accessories can be finalized.

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