Our Outdoor Living Planner Walks You Through the Landscape Design Process

Beautiful backyard with patio, teak furniture and lush garden
Use our Outdoor Living Planner to outline your vision for a new dream getaway in your own yard and garden. We’ve broken it down into categories: Lawn/Garden, Hardscape, Kids/Pets, Outdoor Kitchens, Water Features and Fire Features. Consider these questions and get your creative juices flowing. Use this planner to partner with a professional for the bigger projects on your wish list.  
What is the size of the proposed project’s area in square feet?
 Front yard sq. ft.
 Back yard sq. ft.
 Side yards sq. ft.
Do you plan to use the outdoor space for:
Parties or gatherings
Less than 10 guests:         Seated        Unseated
10–30 guests:         Seated        Unseated
More than 30 guests: #         Seated        Unseated
Outdoor kitchen/grill area
Patio with seating (for how many people?)
Quiet meditation  |  Children’s garden or play area
Yard for pets
Outdoor games or sports (please list)
Containers with plants
Garden space to grow
Cut flowers
If you have a budget in mind, what is it?
Do any of your family members suffer from allergies?      Yes        No
Does anyone who will use the site have mobility issues (use a stroller or wheelchair)?     Yes       No
Will your yard need to be fenced for safety or privacy?      Yes        No
Does the property have any noise issues (loud neighbors, busy streets)?      Yes        No
Is there a need to block any undesirable views from your property?              Yes        No
Are your property lines agreed upon by your neighbors and the city?            Yes        No
Are there any buried utilities on the property (septic systems or utility lines)?      Yes        No
Do you want an outdoor sound system?   Yes        No
What is the sun exposure in your yard (full sun, partial shade, full shade)?
Front yard  |  Back yard |  Side yards
Does sun exposure cause problems inside the house (like too much heat from south-facing windows)?  Yes        No
Does sun exposure limit outdoor use (too hot to play outside, too shady to grow vegetables)?    Yes       No
What time of day will the site be used most?
What are the primary materials used in the existing landscape and/or exterior of your home?
  Natural stone| Brick | Fiber cement siding | Stucco | Vinyl siding | Cedar shingle siding | Wood clapboard siding | Aluminum or steel
What elements would most help improve the curb appeal of your home?
  Improved lawn | Groundcover | Flowers | Trees | Hardscape repair | New hardscape | New landscape design
What do you like about your existing landscape?
Are there existing plants that you want to stay in the yard?     Yes        No
What plants do you want removed?
What don’t you like about your existing landscape (overgrown plants, dated architectural elements)?
Are there other features you want addressed (unusable steep space, erosion, drainage issues, etc.)?  Yes        No
What are your favorite flower colors?
Is there wildlife you want to keep out of your yard (coyotes, snakes, raccoons, possums, moles/voles, deer)?  Yes        No
Is there wildlife you want to encourage coming to your yard (birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, squirrels, deer)?    Yes        No
Are there pests you want to discourage (ants, bees, cockroaches, spiders, mosquitoes, flies)?   Yes       No
How much gardening work will you likely do yourself? 
I won’t do anything myself
I will hire someone to do some tasks, like mowing
I will do it all myself
Which, if any, of the following edible garden options do you want?
  Vegetable garden | Herb garden | Fruit trees
How much turfgrass (if any) do you want in your yard?
Front yard % of the yard
Back yard % of the yard 
Do you want an evergreen lawn, or is a lawn that goes dormant (turns brown) in winter OK?
Do you have an irrigation system?  Yes        No
Is it working correctly?    Yes     No 
Do you need a new irrigation system installed?    Yes       No
Prioritize the following landscape items as (1) very important (2) important (3) not important:
Turfgrass | Drought-tolerant plants | Native plants | Fruit-bearing plants | Organic and/or vegetable/fruit garden | Food and habitat for pollinators and birds | Eco-friendly landscape (i.e.,reducing water, fertilizers,pesticides and mowing) | Low-maintenance plants
What water-saving features most interest you?
Planting groundcover to reduce water needs
Installing a rainwater-catch system
Installing a greywater-capture system
(Man-made parts of the landscape)
Are there existing hardscape features in your yard that must stay in the design?    Yes        No
Do you prefer a type of paving material?
 Brick | Concrete | Stamped with patterns | Colored | Glossy finish | Matte finish | Flagstone | Natural shapes | Cut stone (squares or rectangles) | Tile | Natural | Man-made | Gravel | Decomposed granite (ground gravel)
Describe the colors, texture and style of the furniture you want to use in the space (either existing or new).
How many children will use the space and what are their ages?
What activities do your kids enjoy?
If any, what sports will be played in the yard?
Do you have playground equipment already?      Yes        No
Do you want new play equipment?  Yes        No
Do any of these options for play areas interest you?
  Natural boulders to climb |  Swingset | Slide | Tree swing or rope to climb | Sandbox (with a lid if you have pets) | Sidewalk or path for tricycle/
bicycle use | Inground wading pool or freestanding pool | Basketball hoop | Batting cages/goal nets
Will pets use the area?      Yes       No
Describe the breed, age and size of your pets: Dog | Cat
Describe your pet’s habits (i.e., the dog digs or the cat climbs trees and gets stuck).
Are there any pet habits that you want to discourage?
How often do you cook outdoors?
Rarely—I just want a gathering place for entertainment
Occasionally, in nice weather
Often, in nice weather
Several times a week no matter what the weather
As often as possible
Do you want the outdoor kitchen to be adjacent to your house or out in the yard?
Is the area where you envision the outdoor kitchen already plumbed for: Water | Electrical | Gas
Will you need storage for:
Dishes or linens | Trash | Cooking ingredients and supplies | Wood for oven or fireplace
What countertop material do you prefer?
Natural stone | Tile | Stainless steel | Wood | Concrete | Quartz | Eco-friendly materials
What wall material do you prefer?
Natural stone | Brick | Tile | Stucco | Wood
Will you need cold and hot runnning water at a sink?    Yes        No
What type of cooking unit would you like?
Pizza oven       Griddle        BBQ grill
Traditional stove with _____ burners
Traditional oven
Do you want an outdoor refrigerator/freezer?    Yes        No
If so, how many cubic feet of capacity do you need?
Do you want beverage storage or service in the outdoor kitchen?
Wine/beer storage or service
Undercounter fridge for snacks/drinks
Will you serve food or drinks at a:
  Patio table | Bar counter
What heating elements appeal to you? 
Permanent overhead heaters
Freestanding (portable) heaters
Wood-burning fireplace in the outdoor kitchen
Will your outdoor kitchen need sun/rain protection?     Yes          No
 Partially open roof      Solid roof
Would you want a misting system for cooling?    Yes        No
Will you want an integrated TV/sound system in the outdoor kitchen?  Yes        No
Will you use a new pool or spa for:
Exercise | Relaxation | Entertaining
Are you interested in these optional extras?
Waterfall | Fountain | Diving board or slide | Grotto | Safety fence | Integrated fire feature | TV/sound system | Cabana/bathroom | Saltwater pool | Vanishing-edge pool  
How many people will use the pool or spa at one time?
Where in the yard will the new water feature be placed?
Will messy trees or plants impact the area near the pool?     Yes        No
Do you want a:    Firepit | Fireplace
How many people will be seated nearby to enjoy the fire’s warmth or ambiance?
Will you use furniture for seating or do you want built-in seating?
What fuel source do you prefer for the fire feature?
  Real wood logs | Natural gas | Hidden propane tank
Do you have kids or pets that need to be protected from the fire element (say, by a hearth)?    Yes        No
Would you like a firepit that is:  Flush with the ground | Raised | Portable
Do you want a fire feature that:
Connects with the patio or other hardscape?
Stands alone and is placed out in the yard?
Is covered by a patio cover or pergola?
What optional extras would you consider for your fire feature?
Fire/water combination (fire feature with an integrated fountain, for instance)
Hearth for seating
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