When you look outside on a day like today, you may see nothing more than a pile of snow. But, it won’t be long before that snow starts to melt away, giving you a glimpse of your outdoor space in the summer. Much like a scene from “Christmas Vacation” where Clark Griswold is staring out the window – picturing his family swimming in the pool – dreaming about the summer weather is what keeps us going.
It’s good news, then, that dreaming is a great way to start your 2014 outdoor design plans. If you want to do something different to your outdoor space this year, now is the time to start. This leaves several months for you to plan, budget and hire the help that is needed to achieve your vision.
Here’s how to start.
Let your imagination run wild and think about all of the things that you would love to have in your yard: a play space for the kids, an inground swimming pool, a kitchen enclosure. When you see where your heart is at, you can then begin working with the ideas that are most important to you. See what you can afford, what you are willing to maintain and how functional these aspects will be.
Study your property and decide what you do and don’t like about it. Maybe there are things you can salvage, but just move around. Other things you may need to get rid of entirely, such as an old shed or sagging deck.
Learn the Rules
Before you pour your time and energy into an outdoor project, find out what the rules are in your community. Your municipality may have its own rules when it comes to sheds, fences and trees, so find out about what’s allowed. Also check with your homeowner’s association (if you have one), as HOAs can be strict about changes made to the outdoors.
Sketch a Plan
You can start sketching a plan for what you intend to do to your outdoor space. One approach is to start with the generic points in your yard and use “bubbles” to identify them. Your bubbles may include a swimming pool, patio, garage shed and so on. Then connect these areas with pathways, walkways, etc. The goal is to have the space flow cohesively.
Check the Functionality
When you have a rough sketch in mind, imagine what it will look like from the inside of your home. When you stare out the windows, you should have a beautiful space to look at, and it shouldn’t block the windows. Also, the space should be cohesive from the indoors to the outdoors, so make sure there are ample walkways for taking out the garbage, putting on coats and shoes and letting out the dog.
Start in Small Steps
Any project is overwhelming when you take it all on at once, so start executing your plan in small steps. This will be possible since you have everything outlined, so start with the basic things that you can do on your own. You can start in the spring and call in the professionals when you need them to help with things like outdoor fireplaces, retaining walls and paved walkways. This will also help you stay on budget and in a position to continue growing with your space.