Few people put as much thought into the layout of their yard as they do rooms in their home. But by creating intentional outdoor spaces, your yard can be the ideal sanctuary for your family.
Outdoors you’re working with Mother Nature to create living spaces where you can relax in the fresh air. The best green spaces work with the natural terrain while also providing creature comforts and ample entertainment. Outdoor living spaces are one place where you can really make your mark without spending nearly as much as you would indoors.
The trick is to start with a solid layout by sectioning your yard into zones. Each zone will serve a unique purpose and the location will be largely determined by the natural surroundings.
- Calculate the size of your yard. The actual dimensions and shape will come into play.
- Make a note of any features in the yard that you’ll have to work around, like an existing patio or mature trees.
- Create a list of the top 3-5 things you want to be able to do in your outdoor living space.
Now let’s take a look at some of the most common yard zones and where they work in an outdoor layout.
Everybody needs a little green space – especially if they have kids, dogs or both. A healthy lawn provides a place to roll around. It’s a spot where you can play catch or practice soccer with the family.
The best spot in the yard for a lawn is a level area that won’t get a lot of run off. Whether you’re laying sod or using lawn seed, look for grass varieties that are suitable for your region. This will give you the best assurance of a healthy lawn and reduce maintenance. Once you’ve narrowed the selection down, make note of how much sunlight the grass needs on a daily basis. It’s the last consideration to make before deciding where the lawn should be.
Gardening is a highly beneficial activity for people of all ages. A vegetable or flower garden is a fun project for parents and kids to do together. Seniors also use gardening as a way to get low-intensity physical activity.
Gardens usually work well alongside a deck or patio area, but they can be placed just about anywhere by creating a simple garden bed. The top considerations for selecting a garden spot are:
Sun Exposure – The best garden nook is the place in the yard that gets full sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon.
Space – The space you need for a garden depends on what you plan to grow. Some vegetables, like lettuce, take up very little space, while others need room to grow. Using an intensive gardening method can help you maximize a small space.
Drainage – Proper watering is crucial for any garden. One of the key elements that’s easy to overlook is good drainage.
Most outdoor living areas have some a deck or patio for eating or relaxing. Typically, the area just off the back entry of the house is the best location for a deck or patio. If you plan to have a grill or outdoor kitchen, easy access to the indoor kitchen is a huge plus.
When designing intentional outdoor spaces, you’d want this portion of the yard to have shade during the hottest hours of the day. If there’s no tree coverage you’ll have to create your own with a pergola, awning, canopy or umbrellas.
In some yards, the natural landscaping that already exists is just as nice as anything you’d pay to plant. Areas like the back corners of the yards and where the landscape is uneven, rocky or tree-filled are perfect for a patch of wild terrain. The best part is this section of the yard should need little more maintenance than weeding and watering during dry periods. Keep native plants in mind, and look for flowers and shrubs that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
If you have kids they’ll probably want their own place in the yard to play. Allowing them to play safely involves picking a good spot for their playscape or sandbox. The key here is to find a shady spot so you don’t have to worry about sunburns. It’s also a good idea to check out the view from indoors. Keeping an eye on the kids from inside is easier if the play area is positioned where you can see it from the window.
Other Yard Sections Worth Considering
There are a number of other outdoor living areas that need special consideration when you’re planning a lawn layout. Other possible yard sections you’ll need to plan around can include:
Chicken coop (if allowed in your area)
Small area for a compost pile
A simple plan for your intentional outdoor spaces will help eliminate clutter. Trying to do too much in a small yard will quickly overwhelm the space.