Creating your perfect landscape can be a project that lasts a lifetime, but how can you effectively design your outdoor living area when your needs, activities and preferences may change over the years? Fortunately, with a little careful consideration, you can create a functional and beautiful landscape that all generations of your family will enjoy.
Assess Your Landscape
When you’re planning outdoor spaces, it is critical to work with what already exists in your landscape. This means creating a landscape that flows with the contours of your property, is suitable for your overall space and will thrive in your climate. Before planning extensive landscape work, consider…
- Soil quality and condition and any adjustments that may be required
- Irrigation needs, including sprinkler systems, runoff and natural rainfall
- Sunlight levels and how light changes throughout the year
- General climate and microclimates throughout the yard
- Views from different angles, including those you may want to preserve or block
- Existing structures, pathways and borders that may or may not be altered
- Potential trouble spots, such as narrow yards, steep slopes or poor drainage
By thoroughly understanding your landscape before you begin redesigning an outdoor space, you can effectively plan proper landscaping that will thrive rather than struggle.
Assess Your Needs
Once you know what you already have to work with in your landscape, you can assess what your needs are for an outdoor living space and how you can create a fun and enjoyable sanctuary in your yard. The needs of toddlers, teens and adults can be very different, however, and it is important to note how preferences may change in the years to come. By thinking ahead, you can make full use of your landscape through different life and family stages without needing to redesign the yard every few years. Consider your family size and how it may change, including whether family members may move away or move closer, whether different family members may be interested in different outdoor activities and how changing schedules may affect how your landscape is used over time.
Planning Outdoor Spaces for Changing Needs
It may seem impossible to plan a beautiful landscape that will be just as enjoyable and useful a decade from now as it is today. Considering different aspects of your outdoor living space one by one, however, can help you develop a master landscape plan that your entire family, as well as friends, neighbors and guests, will enjoy for years. When designing your outdoor living space, consider…
There should not only be enough seating for the entire family to share, but also for entertaining. This might include casual kids’ parties, summer barbecues or more formal events such as a graduation party or bridal shower. While you may not have a seat for every guest over the years, be sure there is space to add additional seating for special events if needed.
From garden tools and children’s toys to sports equipment, patio cushions and outdoor holiday decorations, there is always a need for more storage related to your landscape. A shed is a good option, or integrate storage areas that will serve multiple purposes such as built-in storage benches or bins that are part of the patio or deck design.
If you want a productive, delicious garden as part of your landscape, opt for adjustable gardening areas such as raised garden beds, container gardens or vertical gardening spaces. These types of gardens are more easily adjusted over the years as your desire and needs for fresh produce changes, as well as being more adjustable for garden care.
- Activity Areas
Plan activity areas in your outdoor space that can be modified over the years to meet different needs and preferences. A play structure in an open area, for example, can be removed when young children outgrow it, and that same area can become a badminton court for the whole family. A fire pit area, yoga space or meditation niche can also be adjusted through the years.
Getting from one area to another in your yard should be easy for everyone to navigate. Broader pathways will be easier for unsteady youngsters as well as seniors with mobility assistance, and shallower steps are easier for feet of all ages. Be sure paths are level and even, and plants should not overgrow busy traffic areas.
If you enjoy entertaining in your yard, be sure to incorporate gathering spaces for groups to enjoy. This might include a fire pit with conversation seating, a grilling area with good access to tools and supplies or even an outdoor kitchen for more elaborate parties. Proper lighting or a speaker system for music can also be essential for an outdoor entertaining space.
You will want to see your outdoor living space and enjoy it even after the sun goes down. Pathway lighting, spotlights on focal points and fun string lighting or outdoor chandeliers in entertaining areas can all be part of your lighting design to keep your outdoor space functional as well as festive after dark.
Always consider privacy when designing your outdoor living space, not only from nearby streets or neighbors’ yards, but also from different areas of your yard. Be sure there are good sightlines where necessary, but also consider cozier niches where individuals or smaller groups can feel more private. Plants, screens and lattices or trellises are all good options for enhancing privacy.
Choosing plants for your landscape is easy when you consider not only your own future needs, but the future needs of the plants as well. Note the mature sizes and growth patterns of plants when placing them in your landscape, and consider how much maintenance they may require over the years to be sure you can give them the care they require even as your life changes.
- Focal Points
Focal points can unite your landscape and bring it together visually, even as your needs may change. An eye-catching specimen plant, for example, can become the backdrop for family events and photos, and these familiar sights will always be welcome to your family even as its composition changes.
No matter how your outdoor living space may need to change over the years as your family and its preferences change, you can plan a versatile, adaptable space to change with your family. What won’t change, however, is how much you can enjoy that space and how it will bring your family together for many memorable moments.
Need help planning the perfect landscape for your family’s diverse and changing needs? Our experts can help you craft outdoor living spaces you will enjoy for years!