Outdoor Living Space Ideas and Features
During the spring and summer months, it’s relaxing to be outside enjoying the night sky. Outdoor living spaces also allow you to entertain a larger crowd, especially if you have the space to go big. Being outside in the fresh air is healthy for young and old. It takes away your daily worries for a few hours, especially when you gather with close friends and family around a fire pit.
Outdoor living spaces do not have to be expensive. You can create an outdoor paradise on all types of budgets, and we can help you get there.
What’s a backyard living space without a firepit? You can go big or small. For those who have a small patio or balcony, you can add a tabletop firepit. If you have a small yard, you can go with a smaller firepit or a tabletop firepit. And if you have a larger backyard, go all out with a large stone firepit and stone benches that flank it.
Though most people cook on a grill, you can use a firepit for cooking, especially for snacks, such as shish kebobs, s’mores, popcorn, hotdogs and even corn on the cob. The tabletop firepits are great for toasting marshmallows or cooking hotdogs on a stick. Add a grill to a larger firepit to grill steaks, burgers and chicken.
You can also make memories by the campfire with fun or serious conversations, music sessions and campfire games. When adding a firepit, you have many options, including rock, brick or stucco, adding stone benches, or making a gas-fed firepit instead of a wood-burning firepit.
Even more relaxing than hanging out at a firepit is hanging out at a firepit with the soothing sounds of a pondless waterfall in the background. These require very little maintenance and give you the waterfall without the hassles of keeping the fish fed and the pond cleaned.
The pondless waterfall collects water in a hole filled with rocks and gravel, then pumps it back up to the top of the waterfall. You don’t have a pond to worry about when the kids go outside to play or when your guests bring their children. You just have to fill the reservoir every couple of weeks.
If you prefer an outdoor fountain or just don’t have the room for a pondless waterfall, an outdoor fountain can add the ambiance that flowing water provides. You can choose from many styles, including water wells, spheres and urns.
They are usually set up over an underground reservoir with a pump that recirculates the water. Once the urn fills, the water spills over into the reservoir and is pumped back up into the urn. Fountains range widely in shapes, sizes and prices.
Many people have grills, but you can up the ante with an outdoor kitchen. The grill is enclosed in a cabinet with storage space and a countertop that provides a workspace. The cabinet setup can be as large or as small as you want or need it. You can also add a sink for food prep and washing utensils and dishes. A sink also provides quick access to water if you need it to control a flame up.
Many outdoor kitchens also have small or medium refrigerators and freezers to keep food items and drinks cold or frozen, so you don’t have to go in and out of the house to grab what you need while cooking or enjoying your company. You can create an outdoor kitchen in the open or under a patio cover or pergola.
You can do so much with brick pavers, including making a patio, walkways, edging for flower beds and even steps if you have a hill in your backyard. You can choose from hundreds of styles of pavers, including various shapes, colors, and heights.
Ideas for pavers include:
- If you have a pool and the concrete deck needs updating or is cracked, you can line the area with pavers for a more welcoming look.
- Design walkways from the pool area to the rear deck or patio or from the pool to a reading garden.
- Replace a boring concrete sidewalk with colorful pavers.
- Create a colorful area around a firepit.
- Build a walkway from the house to a utility shed.
- Create landscape gardens with stacked pavers or retaining wall blocks.
A retaining wall doesn’t always have to be functional – you can create a decorative retaining wall. Or, install a retaining wall to block water that flows down a slight slope if it pools where you don’t want it to pool.
Build a wider retaining wall that can double as a bench or a shorter retaining wall that serves as a border for landscaping. Combine a retaining wall with a French drain to move runoff from one area of the lawn to a lower spot where you have landscape plants that need more water. You’ll take care of two problems at the same time: A drainage problem and getting water to a pond or water-loving landscaping.
You can also use retaining wall blocks to separate your yard from the street or create a low “fence” to divide your yard, or keep smaller dogs in one area.
To add more seating, create a low retaining wall around your patio. The wall will serve as a border to keep grass away from your patio and as seating for more guests.
When you want to create a shady place to hang out in the backyard, build a pergola. The slatted roof keeps most of the sun out. You can also use a pergola to grow your favorite climbing plants. If the pergola is over your patio, you can hang outdoor lighting.
If you want a pergola but also want protection from the weather, you can add clear panels to the top to keep most of the patio dry.
Sturdy pergolas made of larger lumber can also accommodate hanging swings between the posts, which makes a great place for conversation or to curl up with a book.
Plants and Greenery
You might want some backyard privacy but prefer not to have a fence. You can create a private area by planting evergreens around the edge of a patio or along a fence line. Create a “green room” but adding crawling vines to trellises or a pergola – the plants will grow up the sides to provide a private corner, but the top will be open to the sunlight – unless you create a lattice roof for the plants to grow over.
Choose native plants to line fences and walkways for a low-maintenance splash of color. If you layer plants that bloom at different times of the season, you’ll have different colors throughout most of the year, depending on your location.
You can do so much with stone because there are many different types. Create a stone wall to border your property. For an old New England tone, use granite rocks or if you want to create a place to rest, use flat sandstone.
Flat sandstone also makes a great natural walkway to your front porch and adds a touch of country charm. You can also use rock of any color to fill gabions to border your property, border a patio, create a bench, or even create small retaining walls for smaller hills.
Use certain types of rock to build a firepit or even a fireplace to barbecue on. You can also create water features with rock. Dig a trench at the end of a gutter that points downhill – even a slight slope will work. Fill the trench with larger stone on the bottom to leave room for the water to flow. Add smaller stone on the top to make it level with the ground. You can add different types of stone or different colors to match your home or give the landscaping a pop of color.
Most people have walkways in front of their homes, but you can create walkways on the sides and in the rear, too. A walkway from a side garage door to a utility shed breaks up the yard and gives you a clean place to walk when it’s wet outside.
Walkways in the rear can create paths through landscaping plants, especially if you have a large yard. You can create walkways from pavers, gravel, marble chips, wood chips, rubber mulch, or even artificial turf. Line the walkways with stone, railroad ties, metal edging, logs, or your favorite plants and trees.
Combine a walkway with a stone wall and flowering shrubs or trees that border a larger property to create the illusion of walking through the forest or even fields of flowers.
Fountains and pondless waterfalls are not just for the patio area. Place them along walkways throughout the property. Create a “carve out” in the foliage along a walkway for a bench and a water fountain or pondless waterfall to create a favorite reading spot.
For larger yards, run piping underground from the main water line to a frost-free faucet so you won’t have to run a 500-foot hose to top off the reservoirs. Use the digging opportunity to install a sprinkler system to keep your plants healthy during the dog days of summer.
You can do so much with landscape lighting, from creating a festive atmosphere on your patio during the holidays to highlighting a favorite flowering shrub at night or creating a romantic atmosphere in your outdoor living space.
Choose different types of lights for the atmosphere you want. Add solar lamps along walkways to light them up at night should you decide to take a midnight stroll.
Landscape lighting is not just about creating the perfect atmosphere in your backyard – it can also dissuade thieves from breaking into your home. Even small solar lamps provide enough light to see unsavory characters in your yard, and they know it, so they are more likely to avoid your home.
Call BLC Yardworks to Make Your Backyard Dreams Come True
These are just a few of the ideas to create a backyard paradise. Contact BLC Yardworks at (630) 669-4797 to discuss your backyard dreams, and we’ll help make them come true.