Essential Guide to the Outdoor Living Space of Your Dreams


After a winter indoors I relish outdoor living. I spend every free moment on the patio, in the garden. That’s where I relax and spend time with friends and family.

Over the years I have put quite a bit of thought into what makes a perfect outdoor living space. Of course, what’s perfect for me may not be perfect for you. That’s why I’m not going to tell you what to do in your outdoor space; Rather, I’m going to share my tips for how you can create the outdoor space of your dreams.

1.     Picture your space

Dream Outdoor Space

Before you make any changes create a mental picture of your dream space. What style do you like? How do you want to use the space?  Do you want a play area for children? Do you want to grow food or would you prefer a simple, low maintenance garden? How much seating do you need?

You can get inspiration by looking at pictures in gardening books and magazines and by visiting gardens.  Dream big. If you’ve always wanted a rose covered arbour, a rock garden, or a flowing fountain put it on your list. This is the time to make an inventory of what you really want.

2.     Draw your outdoor living space

Outdoor space design plan

Measure your space and draw it out as it is now. I used to draw the space by hand on graph paper, but lately I’ve been trying online garden design programs.  Add in fences, gates, structures, plants you want to keep, and any other features that will remain.

Spend a day in the space watching how the sun moves over it. On your drawing show which areas get full sun, partial sun, or all shade. Figure out the directions – north, south, east and west.

Take pictures of your space. Pictures will help you visualize what you can do. These “before” pictures will also be great to compare with the “after” pictures.

3.     Design your dream space

Patio Idea

By now you know what you have and you know what you want. Take your drawing and add in the garden beds, furnishings, and hardscaping needed to transform what you have into your dream of outdoor living.

4.     Make a budget

Garden Design in a budget

You can create a terrific outdoor living space with lots of money or with almost no money at all. It’s good to be realistic about what you can spend.

5.     Prepare your outdoor living space

Prepare and clean your garden

Now it’s time to prepare your space for transformation. Get rid of things you don’t want to keep: broken garden chairs, outdated accessories, discarded toys and tools, etc. Clean and/or repair what remains as needed: wash windows, replace deck boards, repair broken fences.

6.     Make a list

List your tasks

Now that the outdoor living space is cleaned up it’s easier to see what you need to do to make your perfect space. I separate my list into what I can do  (DIY projects) and what I can’t do.  For example, I can make garden beds, choose plants, and do the planting.  I can make a fire pit and lay a gravel walkway. But I can’t wire outdoor lighting or build an arbour. This list becomes your plan to creating the outdoor living space of your dreams.

Now you have everything you need to build the outdoor living space that’s perfect for you. You have your dream and you have your plan for how to turn that dream into reality.  For more tips on outdoor living subscribe to our newsletter.


Pictures credits:
Featured Image: adapted from Krug6
Image 1: country-house
Image 2: Garden Idea
Image 3: Archadeck
Image 4: Giesen Design
Image 5: Pulpolux
Image 6: M Car

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