An essential part of the outdoor living experience is being able to cook and eat al fresco. Today, that has moved beyond the lonely barbecue into full outdoor kitchens complete with multiple cook surfaces, refrigerators, sinks, pizza ovens, beer taps, etc. Very often completing the outdoor kitchen are granite countertops. According to Greg Baroni of Artistic Stoneworks, they just need a little extra care to endure the elements, including protection from the sun to prevent fading (or choose lighter colors), go with a matte “leathered” texture instead of high gloss, and be a bit more diligent with sealants.
When it comes to landscape design, the choices are nearly infinite. According to Larry Diggs, owner of Paradise Designs of California, to help narrow things down there are three things a homeowner needs to decide: 1) desired theme (modern and minimalist, tropical, etc.), 2) how the space will be used and by how many (big pool parties or intimate family dinners), and of course, 3) budget.
Protection from sun and rain extends the amount of time you can enjoy your outdoor living space. It also expands on the architectural details of your home’s exterior. A solid cover provides the most coverage, of course, which makes it ideal for more sun-sensitive furnishings (and skin). Partial shade structures like pergolas and gazebos allow in a bit more light. Or you can take your shade with you in the form of moveable outdoor umbrellas.
The right kind of outdoor lighting enhances the mood of the space, provides safety and highlights outstanding outdoor elements. Lighting adjustability and proper blending/layering of fixtures make sure all outdoor lighting needs are met. Outdoor lighting has become
more energy efficient, adjustable and design-friendly through the use of low-voltage LEDs. Improved technology has also made the quality of LED light much better, similar to that of warm incandescent light.
Your porch/patio is where you’ll be doing the majority of your outdoor living. Options range from poured concrete to brick to cement pavers to travertine flagstones. And of course, there’s the deck, with long-lasting wood/resin composites joining natural wood as available materials. You can have one main porch area near your house or create multiple outdoor living “rooms” for eating, napping, chatting, and so forth. To break up what are usually rectilinear spaces, Matt Foster of Lodi Design & Landscape recommends giving hardscapes some soft curves. Leave such spaces flat, or raise them as stepped terraces to create unique dimension in a yard.
In our relatively temperate climate, there many options when it comes to plant life. Again, the theme helps to narrow those down. However, the exact number, type and placement of foliage are also dependent on preferred colors, soil quality and, especially, the homeowner’s desired maintenance level. According to Foster, many are choosing to keep plants to a bare minimum, some going so far as to completely remove the ubiquitous lawn for the sake of lowered maintenance, water conservation and maximum living space. Conversely, he says, there are others who want “sustainable landscapes,” which can include vegetable gardens, berry bushes and small orchards.
Furniture & Décor
There’s virtually no limit to the style of furnishings you can use outdoors. While other aspects of your yard may be harder to change, Jeff Gibson of With Garden Flair points out that furnishings and decor allow you to continually change up your look outside. This can include pieces as large as sofas and dining sets to colorful accessories like throw pillows, candle holders and bird feeders.
Fire, Water & OTHER FUN EXTRAS
Bringing fire and water features into your yard creates an overall sense of harmony and luxury. A natural stone waterfall or fountain provides peaceful movement and sound. Dive into a cool pool after a long, hot day. Or imagine chatting in front of an outdoor fireplace or having an impromptu marshmallow roast over a firepit on a chilly fall evening. As with outdoor kitchens, there are other items previously reserved for interior use now able to be used safely outside. For example, today, Diggs is seeing outdoor heaters that are connected directly to a home’s electricity. TVs appear out of nowhere – dropping down from the ceiling or popping up from the ground, then back again to be protected from the elements. With things like that, there’s hardly any reason to go back inside.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO
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2444 Maggio Circle
Lodi | (209) 369-6449
LODI DESIGN & LANDSCAPE
PARADISE DESIGNS OF CALIFORNIA
WITH GARDEN FLAIR
2206 Pacific Ave.
Stockton, (209) 933-9009