June means summer is here! If you’re looking forward to all that warm weather, then it’s the perfect time to invest in your home’s exterior. When it comes to a great yard, there is more than just curb appeal. With a little effort, you can turn your outdoor space into the ultimate social space or even weekend getaway. Making the most of your available space may be easier than you think, especially if you focus on these essential elements for a beautiful and practical outdoor area.

  • Define the living area- Regardless of the size of your space, defining your living area is the first step in making the most of it. Identify what you have to work with, and how best to use it. If you have patios or decks, it’s easy to identify limits. From there, try to arrange any furniture you already have. Not all of your outdoor living space needs to be devoted to furniture- an open lawn is great for both pets and children, but also can be a great place for fun, temporary additions like a bounce-castle for a birthday or a pop-up movie screen. Extra space on a porch or patio may make a great spot for some sunning in an Adirondack or lounge chair. Consider what sort of events you’ll want to host, and the space you’ll need to accommodate them.
  • Accessorize wisely- While it may be your first impulse to go out and buy a table and chair set, carefully consider what you are going to actually use. As in many situations where “less is more”, the same applies to outdoor space. Maintain the calm and serenity of your outdoor space by choosing wisely what your family will use. If you plan on grilling, find one that will meet your needs without taking up a ton of space. Sometimes, buying a few higher quality accessories for your outdoor area will last longer than buying a lot of less expensive items. Also, remember to keep any necessary storage items, such bicycles, lawn maintenance equipment, or trash storage, far away from your living area and out of sight!
  • Landscape- Once you know the limits of your living space, start to frame them in like a photo. From potted plants to full planters, you can easily add a wide variety of different plants to enhance the color and natural feel of your outdoor area. Tropical potted plants that move indoors when the weather gets cold, annuals and perennials all work together to accentuate that outdoor oasis. Larger trees or shrubs can add sturdy shade and contrast in your yard.
  • Fire fixtures- Whether you want a simple firepit or a more elaborate gas fireplace or chiminea, fire fixtures are a popular centerpiece for outdoor social areas. These fire fixtures also extend the usability of your outdoor space providing the perfect gathering place for s’mores in the summer on into the cool fall nights where a fire will keep outdoor evenings toasty warm. If you are looking to challenge your DIY skills, there are a wide varieties of DIY fire fixture plans available online that may spark your inspiration.
  • Water features- Nothing says calm and relaxing like the sound of water. From large, extravagant fountains that capture the beauty of a waterfall to simple table-top fountains, water features can help add a layer of sound beautification to your yard. When combined with a fence, trees and shrubs, the sound of running water can help minimize the background noise from the world outside of your outdoor oasis.
  • Lighting- Aside from mitigating tripping hazards, outdoor lighting can be used to accent other parts of your living area and highlight your favorite areas. Lighting fixtures range from string lighting to large lamps that double as small streetlights, and with a little searching, you can match any style or price point. Another consideration is to use lighting to highlight architectural features in your yard while creating ambiance that is usually missed without the aid of additional light. An up-light on a large tree, archway, statue, or gazebo provides a flare of drama and point of interest.

The ultimate outdoor experience is one of the best features of today’s homes. By incorporating a few simple elements to your outdoor space, you can create an inviting area that you and your guests will enjoy.