Michelle Byrne Walsh is an editor at State-by-State Gardening, a master gardener and a member of the Garden Writers Association. Reach her at editor@sbsmags.com.

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Living the Good Life Outdoors
by Michelle Byrne Walsh       #Hardscaping   #Misc

Kevin Poorman built an outdoor kitchen that has been featured in magazine articles and TV shows.


You have probably heard the term “outdoor living.” This has been listed as a major landscaping and gardening trend in recent years. But what does it really mean?

According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (asla.org), outdoor living spaces (defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces), were the second most popular residential landscape feature with 92 percent of landscape architects saying they are in demand. The most popular residential outdoor design element in 2014 was “gardens and landscaped spaces,” which received a 94.2 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Outdoor recreation came in third at 75.8 percent.

In this survey, landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of outdoor design elements. Across all categories, 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as somewhat or very in demand for 2014, followed by seating/dining areas (97.7 percent), fire pits/fireplaces (95.4 percent), grills (94.3 percent) and installed seating (89.6 percent), which includes benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps and boulders.

So “outdoor living” can be considered outdoor relaxing and entertaining.


This night spot features a cozy fire pit, comfortable chairs and subtle but functional night lighting for the perfect evening soiree.
 

“Anyone can easily create an outdoor room,” according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in Arlington. Va. (hpba.org). “In general, the concept encompasses a grilling and eating area, pulled together with a hearth product, such as a fireplace, fire pit or chiminea. Some outdoor rooms are similar to indoor kitchens, with expansive counter space and full food preparation areas complete with sinks and plumbing. It’s even possible to add a dishwasher and a refrigerator … Other outdoor rooms take the concept further with the addition of pizza ovens, cocktail bars, fountains, trellises, patio heaters, spas and pools.”

You can install many of these hardscape items as DIY projects – some items such as fire pits, chimineas, grills, kitchen islands and gas outdoor heaters can be purchased as stand-alone features. Or if you would like a higher-end, built-in outdoor kitchen and fireplace, you can hire a landscape architect and a landscape contractor to design and install them for you.


Setting a colorful, cozy table (complete with hosta leaf napkins) can transform a plain “picnic table” into a fancy outdoor dining experience.
 

Whatever type of outdoor living space you desire, be sure your decisions are based on the kind of entertainment and living you and your family enjoy. Do not just try to keep up with the Joneses – build an outdoor room you love to be in. If you don’t like to cook outdoors, skip the outdoor kitchen and grill. But if you love to read alone or have a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, create a cozy, quiet spot in which to sit comfortably. If you frequently have large parties at night, plan for outdoor cooking areas, overflow seating, space for dining tables, music systems and lighting.

The point is this: Be sure to create outdoor living spaces that fit your lifestyle.
 

Outdoor Living Features
According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (asla.org), the overall rating of outdoor living features for 2014 is as follows (percent of landscape architects rating them as “popular” or “somewhat popular”):

• Lighting – 98.3 percent
• Seating/dining areas – 97.7 percent
• Fire pits/fireplaces – 95.4 percent
• Grills – 94.3 percent
• Installed seating (benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 89.6 percent
• Outdoor furniture – 84.1 percent
• Counter space – 75.5 percent
• Utility storage – 65.5 percent
• Stereo systems – 60.7 percent
• Wireless/Internet connectivity – 56.0 percent

• Sinks – 55.0 percent
• Refrigerators – 53.7 percent
• Televisions/projection screens – 49.4 percent
• Outdoor heaters – 48.9 percent
• Showers/baths – 46.8 percent
• Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 37.2 percent
• Hammocks – 34.1 percent
• Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 14.9 percent

 

 

A version of this article appeared in a September/October 2014 print edition of State-by-State Gardening.
Photography courtesy of Ron Capek, Jason Todd, and Patrice Peltier.

 

Posted: 08/28/17   RSS | Print

 

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