Have you always wanted to do something with that boring back yard, but you don’t really know where to start? All back yard dreams begin with a design that incorporates your specific needs and desires. Here are some questions for you to ask yourself when piecing together your perfect outdoor living area. These are by no means ALL the questions to consider, but these cover most of the main elements that should be considered in your design.

  1. Who Is Enjoying It?

When you begin to develop the design of your hardscape, it is important to consider who will be enjoying the space. Deciding the primary purpose of the space will help you decide what features you may want to include. Ask yourself: Will this be a small, intimate space for you and your family, or are you the charming host or hostess who likes to throw large parties? 

If you want that intimate space for you to enjoy with family, a smaller patio of approximately 200-400 square feet might work for you. This size patio is perfect for enjoying your morning coffee or dinner for two. It gives you room for a table with 4-6 chairs, an area for a couple lounge chairs, and maybe even a small fire pit. 

On the other hand, if you are famous for your parties, you are going to need more space. As a general rule of thumb, you need about 20 square feet of patio per guest. For example, hosting a party with 30 people a few times each year will probably require at least 600 square feet of patio space. If you are able to add more patio space, you can even include other features that will ensure your beautiful back yard patio is the talk of anyone in attendance.

  1. Are there any safety needs for children or pets?

If you have children or pets that spend a lot of time in the back yard, it would be a good idea to have a fence. However, safety and convenience does not mean you must sacrifice parts of your design or any portion of your dream patio. In fact, these features actually add even more possibilities for a custom design. You can have a tall privacy fence to insulate you from nosy neighbors, or an open fence design so you don’t feel like you are in a box. There are even different types of materials to consider: wood, vinyl, aluminum, iron, and more.

  1. Would you like to make a splash with an in-ground pool?

Who doesn’t like jumping into a pool on a hot summer day? When you can walk out the back door and dive right in to your own pool, there no longer a need to pack everyone up to drive down to the YMCA just to swim. This is especially great for families with children. While pools are the most expensive feature in most outdoor living areas, the countless options and features that can be included—not to mention custom shapes and sizes—only increases the amount of customization for your dream outdoor living area. Keep in mind, installing a pool most likely requires a minimum of 1,000 square feet of patio space to accommodate things around the pool such as sunbathing chairs, a dining area, etc.

 Speaking of water, have you thought about an awesome hot tub?

  1. Do you want to extend the season by including a fire pit or fireplace?

S’mores anyone? There are very few things that are more relaxing than sitting around a crackling campfire with friends and family. Fire pits are a great feature to include in your outdoor living area to provide warmth and fun on a cool spring or autumn evening. The large outdoor fireplace stands out as a unique focal point and has the added benefit of keeping the smoke out of your eyes. You can even eliminate that eye-watering smoke altogether by installing a propane burner in your fire pit or fireplace.

  1. How often do you plan to dine out on the patio?

Hail to the grill master! If outdoor dining is your jam, then you might want to go pro with an outdoor kitchen. You can incorporate all sorts of features including a grill, sink, refrigerator, and more. Top it off with a beautiful granite countertop, and you might spend more time this summer cooking outside than inside. In order to protect your outdoor kitchen, we recommend installing a small pavilion to cover your outdoor kitchen to prevent rain from spoiling your grilling ambitions. 

  1. Do you want to keep the party going after dark with outdoor lighting?

Don’t force your guests to retreat inside after the sun goes down. Keep the party going with some beautiful outdoor lighting! No, I’m not talking about those dim and tacky tiki torches. Beautiful and practical low voltage LED lighting provides custom designed illumination for your outdoor living area. Not too much or too little, these fixtures create just the right amount of light to make your patio shine. Sometimes with these lighting designs, it is even more beautiful at night than it is during the day.

After reading through and pondering these 6 questions, I hope you have a better idea of what you need to consider for your outdoor living area. As I said before, these are just some of the questions that deal with the major aspects of designing your outdoor space. Designing your dream patio can be even more detailed than these 6 questions. There are all sorts of things like weatherproof TV’s, outdoor sound systems and more that can make your backyard the coolest in the neighborhood. 

While these questions help you begin to develop your desires, plans, and designs for your hardscape, it is crucial for you to schedule an appointment with a professional landscape designer to help you work though all the complex details to develop a design that is perfect for you. Appomattox River Landscapes is proud to be one of the few landscaping companies in Central Virginia that has a Certified Landscape Designer in house which enables us to help you from concept to completion of your new outdoor living area.