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Creative Ideas for Enhancing Small Outdoor Living Areas in Florida

by Emily Durgan | Thu, May 26, 2016

Creative Ideas for Enhancing Small Outdoor Living Areas in Northwest FloridaNorthwest Florida residents are always eager to spend time outside. It’s not surprising then that homeowners and vacation property owners would want to have an outdoor living area to extend the interior living areas of their homes, regardless of how small the area is.

Determining How You Want to Use The Available Land

As Bob Villa explains, the key to making the most out of even the smallest outdoor living area depends on the landscape architect's ability to come up with an efficient and creative design that transforms the tiny patch of land into one space that serves many purposes.

Landscape designers use creativity and experience to create the best use of your outdoor living area

In small outdoor areas, as a homeowner, you must decide what's most important. What are your outdoor living and entertaining needs? For example:

  • Is it meant to extend your living area?
  • Should it merely enhance the aesthetics of the home?
  • Would you like to have a sustainable garden?
  • Or, a place where your children can play and get some fresh air?

There are inherent challenges and considerations that every landscape designer and homeowner will have to discuss to maximize the effectiveness of the limited available space.

The Importance of Portability and Security

Potted plants and hardscape create a safer outdoor living area in times of high winds

The most efficient landscape design is one that maintains some level of portability and security. A functional and portable design concept could include plants that are in containers, vertical support structures that aren't attached to walls, or secured in place with cement or steel braces.

Northwest Florida homeowners must also consider the fact that we spend six months of the year in hurricane season. Therefore, having the ability to move or secure your new outdoor décor, plant-life, and other items used in the living space will ensure the safety of your family, your neighbors, as well as minimize exterior damage to your home during high winds.

Use Container-Grown Plants to Define Areas and Add Color

For easy access to fresh herbs in an outdoor kitchen area, a tiered herb garden is an attractive, practical and functional way to add color to a hardscaped area without taking up any valuable space. You can also add color to your patio or deck without wasting any square footage by stacking pots of different sizes. Fill them with colorful edible flowers like purslane and nasturtiums.

Combine Hardscaping with Landscaping

Hardscape can double as seating

If you want to have an outdoor living, entertaining and dining area, you could surround the hard surfaced areas with a short wall that matches the hardscaping material. Use the wall for extra seating to minimize the amount of furniture you have.

In June of 2015, Country Living came up with the idea of showcasing 20 creative ways to make the most of the limited space in a small backyard. In one example, they suggested a vertical herb garden that used a simple wooden trellis to hold galvanized metal herb-filled pots that hang from S hooks.

If a lawn installation is out of the question, consider another great idea from Country Living. Furniture and interior designer Liz Marie suggests placing a faux grass rug on top of a hardscape installation.

Use Multiple Levels to Define Spaces

Use steps or tiered levels to create the illusion of space

When the limits of square footage make it harder to designate activity and living spaces, combine different materials with varying heights and depths to create the illusion of separate living, dining and play areas. If you have a wooden deck, incorporate wood steps. Similar to a short retaining wall, steps can double as seating areas during large gatherings. The use of different materials is another effective way to define the purpose of each zone or level.

Let Important Features Serve Multiple Functions

An outdoor kitchen with a grilling station is an appealing addition to every Florida homeowner's outdoor living space. When a small spatial footprint limits your ability to add desirable features to the design, the only way to circumvent the space limitations is by getting creative with the type of features chosen. Since you’ll probably combine your dining and living areas into one space, combining the cooking features of a grill and the decorative and atmospheric elements of an outdoor fire feature will be an efficient way to utilize a small area.

Choose outdoor furnishings which compliment but do not overpower the space

Look for furnishings that are suitable for the size of your outdoor living area. You don't have to sacrifice comfort or style when shopping for smaller scale furniture to fit your space. Keep in mind furniture should not overpower the space. Also, the right pieces can enhance the efficiency of your space when integrating furniture which provides seating as well as storage. For example, a built-in bench will provide extra seating and many benches open from the top or have storage cubbies underneath. There are also numerous table options available which have collapsible drop leaves or storage compartments underneath.

GreenEarth Will Help You Transform a Small Patch of Land into a Luxurious Outdoor Living Space

At GreenEarth, we know that outdoor living is important and probably one of the best advantages of living here. Our team understands just how important creating an outdoor living space will be to your family's enjoyment of your home. We'll help integrate every element and design feature possible at an affordable price.

GreenEarth's landscape installation team will work with you to make sure that every component of your small outdoor living area fulfills many functions, giving you and your family the chance to cook, eat, entertain, play and relax, all in the confines of your small backyard footprint.

Ready to discuss your residential lawn, landscape, hardscape and grass installation needs?

You can reach our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959 or our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010. Or, you can fill out our handy online form to schedule a free consultation. And be sure to kick off your planning (and dreaming!) process by downloading our free Landscape Planning Guide below.

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