By Tom Nugent
To make a home a great place to live has a lot to do with what lies outside its walls. This is good news for homeowners seeking to improve their outdoor living. In a recent Houzz survey reported by trade magazine, Landscape Management, homeowners were found to be actively seeking ways to transform their backyards into private getaways loaded with the amenities of a sophisticated resort.
Backyard upgrades are no longer limited to decks, barbecues and swimming pools. Today, it is the integrated and interactive landscape that will give your home its character, no matter what size of the property. Opening up your home architecturally and extending the décor and luxury from the interior to the green space beyond your door is possible for everyone.
Whatever you can design for the inside can now be duplicated for the outside. Over the last decade we’ve seen landscape evolve into exotic extensions of the interior. As landscape architects who specialize in residential garden design, creating green and sustainable environments that redefine indoor-outdoor living year-round is one of the most frequently requested of all our services.
The possibilities are endless. Outdoor rooms with ceilings formed by tree canopies, walls formed by hedges, and flooring as simple as grass or pebbles, the “open house” is the ultimate expression of the indoor-outdoor trend. Opening up your home also has the added benefit of creating more light—making small areas look more expansive and blending the living room with the backyard garden. More practically, this approach has the added value of enhancing your property’s worth and extending your home’s living and entertaining square footage, an amenity desired by today’s sophisticated buyers.
Current trends in the greater Dallas area include retreating glass walls, separate outdoor zones that differentiate places for activities and relaxation; sculpture gardens; and cooking and dining areas suited for hosting a range of events, from elegant dinner parties and corporate gatherings to family parties.
State-of-the-art outdoor kitchens now come with culinary gardens, built-in grills, stone ovens, and smokers, and are furnished with high-end, weather-resistant furniture and waterproof fabrics. The use of top-grade natural materials used in unexpected ways offers timeless sophistication and a strong connection between indoor and outdoor rooms.
Whether Beaux Arts classical or contemporary, well designed landscaping ultimately provides the sustainable touch. Strategically situating shrubs and mature leafy trees will filter the air, soften the summer sun, dilute heat, and create a cooled down microclimate. Overhead structural elements, such as a pergola, are interesting visually and create a sense of space while providing architectural definition and a point of interest. Throw in an organic maintenance program for your ultimate garden and your oasis becomes a healthier place for the whole family. Pets, too.
Pools are no longer just for swimming. Yesterday’s cool pool is today’s water feature with ponds, fountains, outdoor showers, and exotic baths replicating lush resort locales. And with an eye on resource conservation, water features—and irrigation and drainage systems—are all plumbed and sensored to mitigate waste.
Moving your party outside is as easy as new technology. Next-generation media and audio products are manufactured to weather the elements, and TV and video displays come complete with retractable motorized screens and surround sound. Media centers, sprung hardwood dance floors, fireplaces and fire pits create opportunities for lively gatherings and indoor-outdoor living throughout the year.
Landscape architects go beyond designing with plant material and crafting imaginative garden solutions. When working with your home architect and interior designer on your next project, don’t forget to include a licensed landscape architect in the planning stage. The interrelationship of the homeowner to the integrated design team is a great way to achieve a higher level of efficiency and the best path to a happy outcome.
About the author: Tom Nugent, a Registered Landscape Architect at Lambert Landscape Company, designs sustainable gardens for every lifestyle.