Your yard offers the perfect opportunity to set your home apart from the neighbors, express your personal style, and create your own ideal outdoor retreat.
But where do you begin? Julie Moir Messervy, award-winning landscape designer, author, and owner of Home Outside, an online landscape design service, asks her clients to start by imagining the activities they would like to be able to do on their property. What do you wish you had in your yard? A fire pit, a dining terrace, a vine-covered pergola to escape from the summer sun?
Let the images and tips below inspire you and get you started dreaming about what your perfect landscape might look like.
Above: With plenty of seating and festive lighting, this terrace invites everyone out to the party! Design by JMMDS. Photo by Susan Teare.
Do you long for your home to be a welcoming place where friends and family can unwind and have fun? Expand the entertaining capacity of your house by creating an outdoor living room. To keep guests from aimlessly wandering around the yard, use paving, walls or fencing, and other hardscaping materials to delineate the gathering area. Furnish it generously with comfortable seating, good lighting, colorful potted plants and other inviting details. Your place will become everyone’s favorite hangout!
Above: This well-planned terrace integrates a stainless steel grill insert and outdoor sink into its stone parapet wall and stone countertop. Design by JMMDS. Photo by Susan Teare.
Cooking outside is always fun, and new products and amenities—from moveable grills and pizza ovens to permanent outdoor kitchens—are keeping up with the trend, making it easier than ever for the chef to stay at the party with the guests instead of trapped in the kitchen. If you choose to install a partial or full outdoor kitchen with walls and countertops, it pays to use the services of an experienced designer to make sure the design is well integrated with your house and the rest of your landscape.
Gather Around the Fire
Above: Putting down the cellphones, gazing into the flames, and making conversation just naturally seem to happen by the fireside. From New Landscaping Ideas That Work by Julie Moir Messervy (The Taunton Press, 2013). Design by Home Outside. Photo by Susan Teare.
There are few things that draw people together like an outdoor fire, whether it’s a fire pit, chiminea, fire table, or firebowl. The wealth of choices prove the popularity of gathering around a thermal element in the garden. Do you think building and tending the fire are part of the fun, or do you prefer ignition at the flick of a switch with no ash disposal or clean-up later? There are gas, wood, and electric options in a wide range of styles. Think carefully about the size of the gathering you prefer, and plan enough space and seating for everyone. And don’t forget to provide a place to perch drinks or s’mores.
Above: Fireside design by Home Outside.