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Outdoor Living Spaces – Part 2

Let Function be Your Guide

By David Beaulieu, About.com

As stated on Part 1, you need only look to the intended function of outdoor rooms to determine the “building blocks” needed to compose them. Keep both aesthetics and function in mind when constructing outdoor rooms. But in areas dedicated to physical activity, if you have to choose between the two, focus on function. Never compromise on safety. You can make up for compromises in aesthetics later, when you accessorize your outdoor rooms.

Below are examples of outdoor rooms and how to put them together.

Outdoor Rooms: Pool Areas

Let’s begin with outdoor rooms whose main function is to house a swimming pool. Landscaping around swimming pools presents specific challenges regarding safety, maintenance and privacy. You don’t want people slipping on anything, you don’t want to spend all your time cleaning up debris, and you don’t want the neighbors peering in at you. In selecting a “wall” to enclose the area, all of these considerations come into play.

A strong argument can be made, then, for having a fence serve as the “wall” around a pool, rather than a hedge or a lattice screen. A tightly constructed fence will do the best job of screening out prying eyes. And because it has no leaves or needles to shed, there’s nothing to slip on, nothing to clean up.

“Floors” in pool areas must be slip-resistant. “Ceilings” usually aren’t necessary: you’re going to get wet anyway, and sunbathing and swimming go hand-in-hand.

Outdoor Rooms: Meditation Areas

For meditation gardens, some of the concerns are the same, some different. Privacy is still very much an issue (since secluded settings are more relaxing than open settings), as is maintenance. But safety goes on a back burner. Here, reflection, not physical activity, takes center stage. Aesthetic considerations, consequently, will carry greater weight.

Most people find plants more relaxing than hardscape, so consider planting hedges to form the walls of such outdoor rooms. If you don’t want to wait for hedges to get tall enough to afford privacy, install lattice screens, instead. To satisfy your requirement for plants and provide further privacy, train vine plants to grow up the lattice. Climbing hydrangeas are perennial vines and an excellent choice for shady areas. You have more choices in the sun, including that ever-popular annual, the morning glory.

For a floor, consider a combination of natural materials. You want something interesting into which to gaze, something with distinct textures. For instance, a rustic flagstone patio, with scotch moss planted in the cracks between the stones — or creeping thyme, if you enjoy landscaping with fragrant plants.

In meditation gardens, a ceiling may come in quite handy. Here, you’ll have to choose between aesthetics and functionality. A vine-covered arbor may be more inspiring to gaze up at than a lawn umbrella, but the latter will keep you — and the books you may be reading — dry. If you’d like something more solid than an umbrella, consider installing a pergola and covering it with fiberglass.

But water shouldn’t be banned entirely from contemplative outdoor rooms. If there’s any place in our yards for accessories such as garden fountains and waterfalls, surely it’s here! There’s nothing like the soothing sound of bubbling water to put us into a reflective mood.

Outdoor Rooms: Play Areas

If you have kids who enjoy baseball, football, soccer, or just plain running around, set aside a special outdoor room just for them. You can’t beat a grass floor for these activities. While a ceiling won’t be necessary, walls are a must. You don’t want errant tosses rolling into the street or wiping out those flowers you just planted in another portion of the yard. A solid fence will probably best serve the role of wall here, something that will easily stop a ball. Hedges are less effective, because balls either get through them or get lodged within them. By having to repeatedly dislodge balls stuck in a hedge, kids may end up wrecking the hedge.

Given their individualized purpose, meditation gardens in particular are outdoor spaces that cry out for accessories. Curios and pieces of yard art can serve as focal points here. Any objects that have special meaning for you are potential accessories, as long as they can stand up to the elements.

More conventional lawn ornaments will generally be preferred as accessories in areas visible from the street when focal points are needed.

Outdoor patio furniture sets and similar accessories are utilized in many types of outdoor spaces, especially those designed for dining. For many people, the place for dining alfresco is either the patio or the deck. Fortunately, a wide variety of patio and deck accessories are now available to enhance the experience of dining outdoors.

Why limit the time you spend in your outdoor spaces to the summertime? Even for Northern climes, accessories are available that can extend your enjoyment of the yard into other times of the year. Outdoor fireplaces, electric heaters and gas heaters are accessories that will keep you warm through late fall and allow you to resume your pursuits in early spring. Outdoor lighting is another great “extender,” permitting you to enjoy your outdoor spaces under the stars.



Stamped Concrete Porches Rocky Mount NC

This stamped concrete porch is actually just outside of Rocky Mount in Sharpsburg, NC.  Whether stamper concrete or just regular concrete, concrete porches offer you great value, beautiful, and long lasting porches.  Please click o the pictures below to view larger images.

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If you live in the Rocky Mount  area or anywhere in Eastern North Carolina please give us a call for a quote.  We can provide quality work on for any of your concrete or landscaping needs.  If you would like to immediate assistance please click on the “Contact Us” tab on this site and call or email me.