How to Optimize Your Yard for Outdoor Gathering and Outdoor Living

You’ve heard it before: your yard is an extension of your home. However, many people don’t take full advantage of their outdoor space. Sure, you may send the kids outside to play or use your pool now and then, but there’s not a flawless transition from indoors to out. Also, your outdoor space may not be ideal for gathering. Find out how to design your yard to be a place where you can live, not just visit from time to time.

Cover the Entrance for a Seamless Transition

You’re less likely to use the outdoor space if it’s not set up for the elements. Creating a covering over the back door can provide a more harmonious transition.

If it’s raining, you can still go in and out without getting wet. If it’s sunny, you don’t have to squint into a wall of heat as you exit.

Consider the Flow

A large backyard is nice to have. However, if you don’t consider the flow when you design it, that great expanse may not be too inviting.

Think about your yard in the same way as you think about your house. There are separate rooms for eating, relaxing and resting. You do most of your entertaining in the kitchen and living room, don’t you? You can do the same in your outdoor space.

The eating area of the outdoor space can mimic your kitchen. Tables and chairs give guests a place to rest their bodies and their drinks. Taller furniture provides standing-room-only gathering space without taking up a lot of room. Bar-height tables are ideal for smaller patios.

Giving each area a boundary without fully enclosing it can help you maintain the illusion of space in your backyard. Have each zone flow into the other with wide pathways. Stay away from tall borders if you want to be able to accommodate large groups.

Maintaining the flow also keeps your backyard unified. You don’t want your backyard to look like separate rooms in different houses.

Think About Natural Seating

Conventional furniture can be limiting when you’re hosting a lot of people. Add natural features to provide extra space for guests to rest. Large stones and low walls add design elements that blend in when no one’s around. They give you extra seating without cluttering the area when guests are over.

Keep It Low Maintenance

If the only time you spend in your backyard is occupied with mowing and weeding, you’ll be exhausted by the time your guests come over. Low-maintenance landscaping lets you enjoy the space without resentment.

Swapping out a traditional lawn for bordered meadow plantings can prevent you from having to mow weekly. It also requires less water and grows with just the right amount of waywardness.

Paving a large area provides plenty of space for your kids to play. They won’t miss the grass. In fact, they’ll be able to ride their bikes on the hard surface. Your guests’ high heels won’t sink in during your outdoor parties.

Concentrate on evergreens. They look beautiful in the summer and winter. They require little care and add structure to the design of your backyard.

Add Lots of Light

It’s hard to feel comfortable outside when you can’t see your guests’ faces at night. A flood light that’s attached to your house goes only so far in illuminating the space. A floodlight can also be too harsh.

The best backyards for gathering and outdoor living have plenty of light throughout. Line pathways with lights so that your guests don’t overstep their bounds.

Make light the focus at the main stopping points. A fire pit is a great light source. Outdoor lamps on side and coffee tables invite people to sit down. Lampposts at the entrances to the different spaces help to reinforce the flow.

Bob Vila offers unique ideas for great backyard lighting.

Trade Out the Pool For A Spa

A pool doesn’t get much use in the colder months. A spa leaves more room for entertaining elsewhere in the yard. You’ll have more options for furniture placement with a spa in the corner than with a pool in the center.

A hot tub can also be used throughout the year. It’s a better investment when you look at it in terms of your enjoyment. Plus, Realty 101 reports that even a portable hot tub can add value to your home.

When you’re designing your backyard, think about it as though it’s part of your home. Make it comfortable, inviting and flowing, and you’ll spend as much time outdoors as you do inside.