Your backyard can be your own little slice of paradise if it’s properly designed with activities in mind. Landscaping is important, of course, but architectural structures and elements introduce new levels of interest and activities, whether for play, family entertainment, or relaxation.
While backyard structures can be built from durable materials, such as hybrid metal and vinyl composites, traditional wood carpentry gives them the warmth and natural appearance and feel to the touch that many people admire. When expertly combined, all of these materials create unique designs that suit specific environmental and lifestyle needs.
Whether the style of your home is traditional colonial, mid-century modern, or classic Victorian, there are ways to extend its theme into the architectural landscape features and elements. Start brainstorming desired activities first and then consider the structures or elements that will make them possible for family and friends.
Organize Activities By Group Size and Energy
When it seems that there are too many activity ideas to consider it helps to narrow them down by the group size and energy.
Ask any teacher if its easy to get dozens of children to play well in a classroom and you’ll get the idea. Whereas, turning them loose onto the playground lets their respective energies circulate to invent and play.
Thus, when designing landscapes you have to first consider the activities and the size and nature of the group of people that will participate. Some family activities will be enjoyed by all but the size of the space will need to accommodate the respective needs of adults and children.
Let’s take a closer look.
Open Structures Invite Community
You drift in the swimming pool by yourself but when making the significant investment for backyard features like it, you probably envisioned pool parties with family and friends. The shared community energy is what makes open structures ideal for interactive group activities.
Here are some examples.
- Swimming pools
- Fire pits and fireplaces
- Swing Sets and Playsets
All of these structures and features can be designed and constructed to be safe and friendly for children and adults, including swing sets and playsets.
They’ve become more elaborate in recent years by assembling modules that include unique elements such as climbing walls, zip lines, and rope ladders. If you feel more comfortable with your children at home under your supervision, then consider transforming your backyard into the ultimate action-packed adventure.
For adults that want to sit back and watch the children enjoy their play, a pergola is a welcome garden feature that forms a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area. They are typically made of vertical posts or pillars that support crossbeams and a sturdy, open latticework that provides part sun and shade.
If you are feeling artsy or enjoy a cottage-like feel you can train woody vines such as climbing hydrangea or even grapevines to further stylize the wooden or metal latticework. This not only adds a personal touch but introduces additional packets of shade.
Closed Structures Create Focus
There’s fun in the sun, and then there’s too much sun, which means sunburn. You can enjoy your backyard even on the sunniest days with a pergola, gazebo or pavilion.
How about dialing down the activity and energy level even further?
The counterbalance to high-energy group activities is relaxation and personal or intimate activities intended for introspection. The backyard landscape structures and features that support them are many.
Here are a few to consider.
- Pool houses
- Forts and playhouses
- Meditation and yoga studios
- Outdoor offices and writing studios
- Screen porches and enclosed gazebos
If you are having trouble visualizing these structures, think “tiny house.” They may be fully enclosed, with or without four-season windows and doors.
To minimize costs you may elect to limit your utilities to electricity. If running water is required for a bathroom, you’ll need to invest in trenching the water source to at least 4 feet deep to prevent freezing in our Minnesota winters.
Heating your enclosed structure can be accomplished with electricity only, but if you are planning to do that you may as well include a line for natural gas as the additional cost is minimal.
You can outfit your office, studio, or multi-purpose room with spaces and furniture and flooring for whatever activities you have in mind. The key is planning, of course, because changes to these structures typically require a good amount of rework that can get costly.
So, work with your landscape designer and architect or draftsman to thoroughly plan all of the details.
Integrate All Backyard Activities
You have now planned your outdoor structures and features by the activities they will support.
However, take the time to consider your year-round lifestyle and how it may change in the future. This will allow you to maximize the utility of the spaces and your investment in them. The purpose of the activity-first approach is that most backyard landscape structures can be multi-use.
For example, a screened porch keeps insects at bay and extends your living space. This makes it perfect for adult activities such as wine-tastings with neighbors or gatherings to watch sporting events.
For children, that same space can become a sleeping porch for a slumber party.
Plant lovers will enjoy a greenhouse to extend their gardening season and protect their favorite heirloom plants during the coldest Minnesota winter. It could also serve as a unique workspace to enjoy the rejuvenating qualities of sun and humidity during our extended winters.
Are you ready to add a distinctive architectural element to your backyard or garden?
We design gorgeous outdoor living spaces that increase the square footage of your home, improve your enjoyment of your outdoor space, and help create a lifetime of memories with your loved ones.