Having an outdoor living area is becoming increasingly popular. Being outdoors helps decrease people's anxiety levels and improves mental health, and these spaces also give people more living area and a better space for entertaining while potentially increasing the value of the home. To get the most benefits, however, the outdoor living area has to be designed well.

Consider the Intended Use

Before beginning to design an outdoor living area, a homeowner needs to decide exactly what they hope to do in that area once it's completed. Is it an area meant for entertaining others, a relaxing retreat for the whole family, or a play area for the kids? A relaxing place to read or nap requires a different setup than an area meant to feed and entertain 20 of your closest friends and family.

Consider the Property's Features

No matter how much you might dream of a large patio surrounded by citrus trees, if you live in an area that gets cold in the winter and you have a hilly backyard, this isn't realistic. Think about what's already working with the landscape and what needs to be changed. If you're not sure what's possible or what would be the best plan for the space, consult a professional like those at A Greener Season Landscaping for help.

Plan for Comfort and Convenience

The plan for your home's outdoor living space needs to take into consideration the comfort of the people who will use the space as well as convenience. This means having some type of wall or tall greenery to provide privacy and some type of covering to protect people from the sun and perhaps other elements as well. This could be done through the use of awnings, pergolas, or even umbrellas. To add to the convenience, make sure there are easy paths to get from the inside of the house to the outdoor living area as well as to other parts of the yard. Adding outdoor access to utilities, such as water and power, will increase the convenience of the outdoor living area and make it less likely people will need to go inside. Include lighting and perhaps a heat source to increase the time that the room will be usable throughout the year.

Think About the Views

An outdoor living area should be attractive when viewed from inside the house, and the view while sitting in this area should be beautiful as well. Try to use materials that go nicely with the materials used in the home and the colors of the plants and materials in the rest of the landscaping.

Think Long Term

Even if you can't afford to create the outdoor living area of your dreams right away, have a plan and keep the end point in mind while you work toward the ideal space in stages. If you start with putting in a patio, make sure to include any utility hookups that will be needed in the future at the same time so you won't have to dig up the landscaping again later to do this. It's best to get these lines in place near the start of the project, including any water or electrical lines needed for an outdoor kitchen or water feature that will be added in the future.

Think About Maintenance Needs

Another thing that people need to consider in the planning stages is how much time and effort they can and will spend handling maintenance. It's possible to plan outdoor living areas that need very little maintenance, but it may require making some compromises to your idea of the ideal space. Using plants native to the area, using hardscaping to minimize the areas that need mowing, and using the proper materials can all make a difference on the amount of maintenance that will be necessary.