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Baby Got Back(yard)! Maximize Your Outdoor Space

Here are some important considerations to make when planning your outdoor design.

By Julea Joseph

Now that stay-at-home orders have been relaxed, the backyard—which may have been used infrequently recently—has regained primacy as a home feature. So, baby, if you got back(yard), use it!

Recently, clients who I hadn’t worked with since 2011 approached me about updating their outdoor space. They wanted a new deck. Their current deck had no stairs, which didn’t allow them access to the rest of their yard.

Like this client, so many homeowners are rethinking how they can use their outdoor space and make it as usable as their indoor space. Here are a few tips to consider in unlocking the potential of a backyard:

1. Consider how you get access to your backyard. Which spaces on the interior of the home get you to the outside? Are there multiple options? A door from the breakfast area or family room? Can you easily walk around to the backyard from the front yard? These traffic patterns may determine how each usage area of your backyard is then planned out.

2. How do you want to use the space? My client had grand plans for her outdoor space: hot tub, firepit, gazebo, and dining/cooking. After you determine your wish list, you can then pinpoint areas in the backyard that will be best suited for those activities.

      

3. How big do these areas need to be? How you plan to use your backyard will determine the size of the space needed. This is important to consider when plotting out your landscape and ensuring you don’t overcrowd a space. If you want a fire pit area, the key element is the firepit. So, size that, and then take into account adding seating around it and safe distances from the heat and flames.

    

4. What surface hosts these activity spaces? Will you rely on grass, concrete, decking, paving stone? Determine your flooring or turf, and budget accordingly.

5. What are the existing assets or hindrances in your backyard? Do you want to incorporate that large tree in the middle of the yard as part of the design, or will it need to be removed? Do you want to take advantage of a great view? My client had a beautiful pond in her backyard and wanted to make sure that the gazebo she planned to build did not block her neighbors from the great view.

Have fun with your backyard! You can be inspired by your indoor space’s color theme, but don’t be at the mercy of it either. It’s OK to break that rule. There are oodles of ideas to inspire your patio design. Search online for inspiration. Keep a keen eye for ideas.

 

Julea Joseph is the owner and lead designer at Reinventing Space in Chicago. Visit her website and blog at Julea.com(link is external)

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