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10 Ways To Refresh Your Outdoor Environment

This year the springtime season of renewal and rejuvenation is especially significant.

One of the positive outcomes of the prolonged pandemic is that many people learned to live as they always should have been.

  • People are moving back to their hometowns because they miss the community
  • They are building new homes, some downsizing, and others upsizing
  • Lots of families are renovating their current homes

Experts expect this trend to continue as the economy strengthens. We do too because clients are telling us their lifestyles have changed and they want to create the right environment to support it.

Here are our recommendations for everyone that wants to get more from their outdoor environment

10 Ways For Living Outdoors As You Imagined  

#1. Greater Functionality

The home office revolution helped many people rethink the utility of their workspaces. Do the same with your outdoor living spaces. List and prioritize activities and what’s necessary to fully enjoy them.

Here’s a list of the nation’s top 10 most-requested outdoor features from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Take a look and start brainstorming.

  1. Outdoor furniture seating areas
  2. Fire pits and fireplaces
  3. Outdoor lighting, both functional and accent lighting
  4. Covered outdoor dining areas
  5. Full outdoor kitchens
  6. Decks that blend with the environment
  7. Grilling and barbecue stations
  8. Outdoor heaters
  9. TV/movie wireless/internet entertainment systems
  10. Built-in music sound systems

Every space can be reimagined to become more suitable for the people and pets that inhabit it. That said, everything comes down to a budget. Here at Architectural Landscape Design, we have developed a simple, yet effective budget planning tool that takes no more than 15 minutes to outline your project.

#2. Refresh the Theme

Your style may have evolved. A cleaner, elegant, and more formal design is one of the current design trends.

When you choose a theme for your outdoor room it sets up boundaries. Those boundaries are like guardrails that prevent your project and its budget from running off those rails.

Everything gets easier. For example, picture a tropical theme. Does the first image to come to mind include bright vibrant colors? Just like that, that visual gives you a solid take on your color palette.

Here are some theme ideas that may help you find yours. 

  • Places – beach house, hunting lodge, private retreat, an Irish pub
  • Activities – recreation, gaming, group entertainment
  • Raving Fans – Game of Thrones, college sports, golf club, winery

Any of the potential themes can and should be further refined to suit your style.

#3. Renew Tired Plants and Hardscapes

The quality of brick pavers, for example, has greatly improved over the last 20 years. New shapes, surfaces, and resistance to fading are just a few reasons for upgrading.

Do you have any old, faded red brickwork outside your home? It practically screams “out of date” and makes your entire home look like it’s from the last century.

Instead, upgrade to natural stonework or a modern engineered product that imitates the look of real stone.

The same is true for plantings. Every year new plant cultivars arrive that have greater disease resistance, improved growing habits, and extended bloom times. The popular family of Knock Out Roses is one example of extended blooming roses that are easier to care for.

#4. Focal Points and Gardens

Open space works, but it works better when the eye has a place to rest, such as an inviting focal point. This can be a piece of crafted or living art, such as a unique themed garden.

Landscape designers use focal points for a variety of reasons. An intermediate focal point is commonly used to focus the eye toward the main entrance of the home. This may be done for emphasis, safety, or most likely both.

Sometimes focal points are used to pull the eye away from undesirable views. It stands to reason that if you can avoid including the undesirable feature in your photo it will be improved.

#5. Remove Outdated, Overgrown, or Unwanted Plantings

Ornamental plantings sometimes need to be thinned to reveal their mature beauty, the texture of their bark, or branching habit. Reshape the beds and plant groundcovers that reflect the morning light, and you have a new landscape!

This often means you will have to remove perfectly healthy plants. Keep in mind that you are practicing ornamental horticulture. If the unwanted plantings have delivered value you can quietly thank them for their service and move on with a clear conscience.

If you are willing to hire professionals, you can have the plants properly transplanted and gifted to a friend.

#6. Make Spaces More Intimate and Personal

A back or side yard space can become a sanctuary, your go-to place after a busy day. A thoughtful design with plantings and meaningful elements will create just the right energy.

Only you will know what’s important. Is it fresh air and privacy or a more open concept of letting it all in, sun, air, water, fragrances, and sounds?

The best advice is often to experience the space in as many ways as you can before making improvements. Take a chair out there and just watch the world go by.

This is what the Feng Shui masters did. They would simply meditate on a space to feel its energy, taking in everything before building their plans.

Remember, this is your space and you have the freedom to do anything you wish to make it right for you.

#7. Open Spaces for More Freedom

Or you may wish to let your energies expand and circulate. You can open up the vertical and horizontal spaces or partially contain one or both, for example, with a pergola that introduces light patterns that change throughout the day and seasons.

Landscape architect Thomas Dolliver Church was one of the pioneers of outdoor living. One of the key principles of this style is the integration of and flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. Church outlined his design process in the book, Gardens Are For People.

His California Style of outdoor living that embraced open outdoor living spaces influenced landscapes across the United States. It’s noteworthy that science backs the lifestyle health benefits that accrue to people who regularly spend time outdoors in open spaces.

#8. Easier Access, Use, and Maintenance

As we get older our needs change. Granite cobblestone walkways may need to be replaced with surfaces that make access easier and safer.

Safety considerations are paramount for any landscape, especially when features such as pools, ponds, fire pits, and outdoor grills are involved. There should be signals that alert people to what’s ahead so that they do not turn a corner to discover the unexpected.

Another common safety mistake is lighting ‘hot spots.’ This occurs when lighting is not positioned properly to avoid blind spots. This can be remedied by considering its effects from all angles.

#9. Fix the Weak Links

Your outdoor environment is perfect. Almost. Maybe there is a chronic drainage problem that needs to be fixed. Most landscape contractors are slow during the summer when conditions are perfect for taking care of these drainage issues forever.

What if you could enjoy it during the evening hours too?

Working homeowners value great landscapes but seldom have sufficient free time to enjoy everything their outdoor living space has to offer. It turns out there is a solution to this problem.

Low-voltage lighting has never been better, not to mention affordable. You’ll want to inquire about the newer LED options that are attainable for a very modest premium from the standard systems.

Landscape Structures For Activities And Personal Style

#10. The Right Architectural Element

Adding architectural landscape elements to a residential environment instantly distinguishes it. The investment may be moderate but the uncommon talent required to design and construct these unique elements is greatly valued.

It’s truly amazing how architectural elements such as pergolas and arbors can transform a space. Landscape structures hold an important place in the garden tradition that blends the best of indoor and outdoor living.

Is your garden one of those special places?

Let our experienced team of professionals help you take it to the next level. Contact us for a casual, no-obligation analysis.