Category Archives: Outdoor Living

Create a Great Outdoor Living Space: Tips From Top Designers

We’ve had a mild winter and early spring, on the East Coast. Now that the weather is so inviting, everyone is looking at their outdoor spaces and ways to enjoy them again.  Whether you’re dreaming up your first summer barbeque on a Manhattan terrace or in an open space, now is a great time for some professional tips on landscape and garden planning.

When to Start

When is the right time to start planning for summer activities? Depending on your idea, the time may vary from a week to six months or a year ahead. When your plans turn to building something like a pool, pergola, tennis court, or even a nice landscape garden, you’ll want to make sure to have time to enjoy it when all the work is done. You want to give yourself ample time to choose the right architect, review the plan, and allow for practical matters like permits and construction.

Work with Nature’s Timing

Connecticut-based landscape designer Janice Parker, says there are 2 times of year that are optimal for planting.  We have from April 1 through the end of May, and in fall between Labor Day and November.  These are not big blocks of time, especially if you’ve still got to decide what to plant.  When your plants are purchased and you’re ready to have them professionally installed, you may find many others are trying to do the same thing, with a limited number of landscape designers to do it.  Finding – and scheduling – a good design firm early will give you the chance to take in your beautiful new landscape with time on your side.

Landscape designer Mario Nievera, who works in New York and Florida, reminds us that some “perennials need a full winter (dormancy) before they look full and healthy.”  So, once you’ve gotten the plants in the ground, you can look forward to enjoying the best display a year from now.

Our West Coast friends have lots of sun and no freezing in winter. Still, your seasonal planning has other challenges.  John Feldman, who leads a landscape design firm in Santa Monica, has to factor in rain and soil conditions.  Sandy soils near the beach, and hillside soils with silt have to be stable enough to build on.  So your timing may need to account for rainy months.

Factor In the Approval Process

For those taking in the view in your dream apartments, in New York or San Francisco, you have your own unique factors affecting your plans, according to Stephen Suzman of San Francisco. Some buildings may limit garden installations to certain times, such as summer.

“Customers only begin to think about their gardens in spring and have the fantasy that their garden will be ready by Memorial Day or by the 4th of July at the latest! They have no idea about the complexity of garden design, the availability of installers, of materials or the length of time an approval process might take,” Suzman says. No matter where you live, getting the most enjoyment from your outdoor space means giving yourself ample planning time beforehand.

Get Your Team Talking

When your plans include siting a home and developing your landscape, you’re wise to talk with your landscape architect early. Feldman points to the advantages you gain when your home architect and landscape architect meet early on. “Landscape architects can, depending on the topography of a site, help the architect to site a home and other structures on a property to maximize the site’s potential including views and solar aspects. They can shape the budget early so that a proper expectation is held by all involved and so that amenities and/or materials are not compromised later.”

So whether you are preparing your terrace or your riding trails, you’re wise to work with design professionals now.  Especially if you want to enjoy your new pool in the summer of 2013!

The Epoch Times published a version of this article as, Get Ready For a Great Outdoor Living Space.