What Landscape Materials and Styles Are Best For Your Family?

Outdoor living area

When it comes to landscaping, there is no one-size (or style) that fits all. 
Trends and aesthetics are far less important than determining exactly how that outdoor space will be used.

Just as homeowners want their homes to reflect who they are, so too should their outdoor living spaces.
After all, if you plan on spending money on this space, it had better be comfortable and functional for you and your family. But “comfortable” and “functional” mean different things to different families. Comfortable for kids? For lavish upscale, outdoor soirees? In other words, first comes function…then follows fashion.

So to help put together an outdoor living space that is truly tailored to you, read on to determine your own outdoor living personality and how to build an outdoor living space around it.

Define Yourself
Discovering your outdoor personality doesn’t have to be hard. Just ask yourself the following questions: How do you envision the space? Is it a place for the kids to play, to entertain, or to play and enjoy sports? Or would you prefer a quiet place to retreat and relax? How much of your indoor personality do you want to bring outside? The answers to these questions can help you focus on your outdoor personality, which is essential to designing a space you will love. “If it doesn’t speak to you, you will most likely not spend any time enjoying the space,” says Lindsey Barnhill of Architectural Transformations LLC in Acworth. “This translates to wasted time and money.”

Although not an exact science, most homeowners will fall into one of the following five outdoor personality categories: “family friendly,” “the serene spot,” “the entertainer,” “gardener’s delight” and “the sports enthusiast.” Family friendly, obviously, revolves around families with kids who enjoy outdoor play. “The serene spot” is for homeowners who love a quiet garden where they can relax and unwind in a beautiful, yet subdued environment. “The entertainer,” on the other hand, frequently welcomes guests to relax and enjoy the great outdoors, whether sharing a meal or having a party.

A “gardener’s delight” focuses on those with a green thumb who love to play in the dirt and take joy in the flowers, trees and shrubs that make up their landscape. “The sports enthusiast,” however, is usually more focused on the turf, making sure to choose one that will withstand the ongoing wear and tear of any number of sports. Read on for a closer look at creating each of these spaces.

For the Family

Family friendly homeowners should seek out a level, open landscape that provides a lot of room for the kids to play. Many times, these outdoor living spaces include a swimming pool and a grounded play set. Adults and kids usually require two different areas, with different seating needs.  When it comes to  shrubs and plants, Phillip Paley, owner of Paley Landscaping in Atlanta, recommends lots of perennials interspersed with a few bushes and evergreens. For year-round color, he also suggests small areas of annuals. Overall, he recommends a simple, easy-to-maintain approach to a family-friendly outdoor space, since most  families are too busy for fussy yardwork!

Kids tend to play long after the sun sets, it’s wise to budget for improvements to outdoor lighting.  The right light can keep kids safe while spotlighting your favorite outdoor features.

Serenity Now
To create a serene spot, the primary focus should be on choosing trees and shrubs that provide good screening and privacy from neighbors. Choose large evergreens like hemlocks to add a lot of privacy. Also, water features are another great addition to a serene spot. “Pondless water features are big – the water falls, but it does not pond,” says Scott Chatham, founder and president of Chatham Landscape Services in Marietta. “It could be as simple as a pot or as elaborate as a waterfall leading to a manmade creek.”

Delightful Escape
When creating a “gardener’s delight” it’s smart to choose a backdrop of evergreens, which will elegantly frame the garden year-round.  Combine the evergreens with an array of unique and interesting plants like palm trees or banana plants. Research new plants and find ways to inject unique foliage into your landscape. Showcase these finds with the right lighting. “Outdoor lighting can highlight specimen trees, path lighting would light the path and some moonlighting effects coming from above would give the soft effect of a full moon each night,” Barnhill says.

Game Time
Similar to the entertainer, the sports enthusiast wants a place not only where friends can enjoy a friendly game of football or Frisbee, but also gather to watch the big game while grilling steaks. As such, look for a good quality yard and a comfortable seating area. Many Atlanta homeowners even request sports courts, custom playgrounds and putting greens. 

Ready for a Good Time
For the entertainer, the outdoor living space could feature everything from an open-area yard, planters with flowers, a brick patio and a built-in grill, if not an entire kitchen. There also should be ample seating for guests. Be sure to plan out a mixture of sun and shade, privacy and openness. Clever placement of fencing or screening with hedges can prevent any awkwardness with the your neighbors any time you entertain.

The right lighting also is crucial for entertaining. Think through where you and your guests will gather to chat, to eat, and to walk.  Light these areas appropriately.

Keeping Up Appearances

Enjoying a beautiful outdoor living space comes from maintaining that space on a regular basis. Therefore, Paley recommends creating a landscape that fits your needs, lifestyle and budget. When it comes to maintenance, “…be very aware of what you’re willing to put into it or pay for someone else to do,” he says. Also, regardless of your outdoor personality, make sure you create a space that complements the home’s architecture and style. When choosing materials and layout, try to reflect the aesthetics of your home. Being consistent in this way will make your outdoor area feel more like an open, comfortable, wonderful extension of your home.

Architectural Transformations LLC | ATOutdoorLighting.com

Atlanta Design & Build | AtlantaDesignBuild.com

Chatham Landscape Services | ChathamLandscapes.com
Ed Castro Landscape Inc. | EdCastro.com

Home & Garden Design  | HomeGardenDesign.com

Paley Landscaping | (404) 320-6737

Solterra Landscapes | SolterraLandscape.com

Unique Environmental | Unique-Environmental.com[embed:fc:field_portfolio:1657:fc_portfolio_node_embed]

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