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.
 
Backyard with comfy seats and lush green plantings

OVERVIEW

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
 __Pool
 __Spa
 __Outdoor games or sports (please list)
 __Containers with plants
 __Garden space to grow
 __Herbs
 __Cut flowers
 __Vegetables/fruit
Do you entertain large groups of people in your outdoor space? Your BBQ might not have enough grill space to cook for everyone all at once. Consider an upgraded cooking area with a covered and lighted grill and plenty of countertop space.
 
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   __Ground cover   __Flowers   __Trees   __Hardscape repair   __New hardscape   __New landscape design
 
 

Backyard Photo NG Turf

LAWN/GARDEN

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
 
 
 
Backyard with Belgard pavers patio & firepit

HARDSCAPE

(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).
 
 
 
Backyard with water slide and pool

KIDS/PETS

 
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 __Swing set   __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?
 
 
 
Luxurious backyard with outdoor kitchen & pool

OUTDOOR KITCHENS

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
 
 
 
Two-level deck overlooking pool

WATER FEATURES
Pools & Spas

 
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
 
 
backyard with retaining wall and firepit

FIREPITS/FIREPLACES

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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