We don’t have a very long warm season here in the Minneapolis area, so if you’ve like many Minnesota homeowners, you want to make the most of the nice days. That often means relaxing in the great outdoors, often in your own yard. With a landscape design that includes outdoor rooms such as patios, kitchens, pergolas, gazebos, decks, and even open porches, you can provide gathering spots to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while you’re surrounded with nature. What a great way to escape from the stress of day-to-day city life!
But just getting the hardscapes and structures in place won’t bring your guests together. For that you need to make your outdoor rooms enticing and inviting spots to gather in. Here are a few things to consider:
- Appropriate, comfortable furniture. Patios and nooks tucked away under the trees or nestled among shrubbery call for chairs you could spend hours in with a good book or the company of friends. On your pool deck or beside a pond you may want adjustable chairs which give you the option of lounging in the sun. And what would a porch be without a swing? Either ceiling-mounted or free-standing, a swing is an essential item for a porch or deck. Accent it with soft cushions and plump pillows and you’ll be almost calling out, “Come sit down!”
- Cast the right light. Summer evenings are made for being outdoors, but nobody wants to sit in the dark. Low-voltage lighting can illuminate pathways, steps, outdoor rooms, and landscape features, creating a soft glow and inviting ambiance. Plus if you’re going to use your yard at night, lighting is a must from a safety standpoint. Also consider candle lanterns – they can be moved from spot to spot or set on a table for a candle-lit dinner.
- Add indoor flair as appropriate. If your spaces are sheltered and protected from the weather, such as a covered deck or gazebo, you might add rugs and indoor furnishings. Colorful accents and knick-knacks don’t have to stay indoors for the summer – they can find their spots in your outdoor rooms as well. Wrought-iron or wood candle sconces that are wall-mounted as well as mirrors in sheltered areas provide decorative touches
- Don’t forget the greenery. Vining plants such as morning glories and grape vines can add a living touch to deck posts, pergola beams, and fences. And while you may have lovely garden beds and shrubs around your landscape, container plantings in your outdoor rooms are important, too. They allow you to bring color to a certain spot without the need for putting in a garden bed, and they have the versatility of being movable. Consider container plants which you can bring indoors for the winter, such as rhododenrons and azaleas. Choosing plants with low water requirements means less upkeep.
- Natural sounds are soothing. Add water features such as bubbling fountains. Water is naturally soothing, and the background sound of a gurgling, recycling fountain is inviting.
- Don’t overlook the importance of color. While your flower beds can provide spots of color, inject interest with colorful pillows, pots, and accents. For a really vivid touch, you can add furniture in bright summertime colors.
- Made in the shade. Make sure your outdoor rooms have some sort of provision for those guests who want to get out of the sun. If you don’t have a covered deck or gazebo, a strategically-placed market umbrella can do the trick.
Minnesota summers are meant to be enjoyed outdoors – with the right touches, your outdoor rooms can become spots your family and guests will naturally gravitate to.