Gone are the days when nice backyard decor was simply a picnic table on a patio. In recent years homeowners have been turning the areas behind their houses into fully designed and stocked outdoor living rooms. With recent stay-at-home orders, it's certainly a trend that makes good sense. Here's how to make your deck or yard a more inviting (and durable) destination.
1. Choose your spot
Every yard has its power spot, the place where you naturally want to be. Often it's the section closest to your interior living space, since it makes for easy indoor-outdoor flow, says Allison Messner, cofounder of Yardzen, an online landscape-design platform. But it also could be where the view is loveliest or the shade is the most consistent. Wherever it is, that's where you want your outdoor room.
2. Select your seating
Avoid high-maintenance materials such as teak or heavy pieces made of iron. Instead, get a material like powder-coated aluminum, which will stay cool and is durable. Add removable cushions that you can store in a shed or in your home. Choose furniture that's sturdy, with arms you can grab and a strong back for support. “A lot of people need stability getting into and out of a seat as they get older,” notes Todd Haiman, a landscape designer based in New York City.
3. Furnish the space like a room
Tie it together with side tables and a weatherproof outdoor rug. Look for solid neutral colors such as grays or browns. “Go for as simple and as chic as possible,” says Greenwich, Connecticut, landscape architect Janice Parker. Unless your space has natural shade, you'll need coverings. A cantilevered umbrella allows for more open movement, reducing tripping hazards; it also provides a wide area of shade.
4. Create ambience
Light paths and walkways with solar lights spiked into the ground. Then light sitting areas with solar lanterns that hang from above or sit on a table. String Edison bulbs along a trellis to create a festive mood. Add music with a portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Instead of a fire pit, opt for a fire table, where guests can enjoy a campfire without sitting so close to the ground. Or buy a heat lamp to extend your season into the fall.
5. Don't forget plants and foliage
This is the outdoors, after all. Decorate with large planters of flowering annuals, setting them on tables or pedestals so you can tend to them without crouching. Choose low-maintenance plants, such as marigolds, petunias and zinnias, and cluster the containers to make watering easier. “You're supposed to enjoy your time and not be working,” Haiman adds. To reach hanging plants, use a wand attachment on your hose, rather than climbing a stepladder, to reduce the risk of falls.