Winter may still be in full swing, but it’s actually the perfect time to consider how you want to utilize your outdoor space in warmer months. We teamed up with the expert minds at online landscaping design service Tilly, because the right combination of landscaping and furniture can make life outdoors so much more enjoyable. Together, we’ve created a helpful guide on how to take your vision from mood board to real-life outdoor oasis.
1. Start With An Inspiration Board
Inspiration boards are a helpful tool for deciding what you like or don’t like. Make sure to take note of what drew you to each item on your board — is it the walkway, the color of the brick, the style of garden?
Pinterest is a go-to for this exercise, but also check out Outer’s 1,000+ Neighborhood Showrooms. Real backyards can be the ultimate source of inspiration for your landscaping project. Not only do our Showrooms incorporate all of Outer’s modular Sofas, Rugs, and more — they’ll give you a great sense of how our Hosts have maximized different space types and sizes within a variety of climates, regions, and personal aesthetics.
This can also help you narrow down your garden style as well. Figure out what plants you want to use, as well as what features and hardscape materials are appropriate and suit your overall vibe. Try Tilly’s garden style quiz to help guide you.
Once your board is compiled, you can step back and get a sense of the big picture. Does everything hang together nicely, or are there some outliers you want to swap out or eliminate?
2. Consider Who Is Using the Space
Do you need room for kids to play? A dog run? Space to entertain neighbors and friends? Are the kids grown up and it’s time to get rid of the playset?
Think about who will be spending time in your yard and how they’ll spend their time there. This will help determine the best layout for your yard. If the layout isn’t practical, you won’t maximize your space — and won’t use it as much as you’d like.
3. Set A Budget
Budget is a key factor when it comes to selecting materials, features, furniture, and quantity and types of plants. Figure out what you’re comfortable spending before you begin designing.
Remember you can phase a landscape plan, too. Tackle one portion at a time to achieve your dream yard; but have a master plan so you don’t have to redo an area, a costly mistake!
4. Prioritize Your Features
What will bring you the most joy? What will get you outside the most? A pool? Big garden? Naturalistic play area for kids? Bocce court? Pergola? Outdoor kitchen? Dining area?
What matters most to you plays a huge factor in your design and budget. Rank and order your priorities, and then you can decide what’s a must-have and what’s a ‘nice to have’.
5. Consider Your Sustainability Stance
When building an outdoor space, ask yourself what sustainable approaches you’d like to take in your overall plan. What do your landscaping partners need to know? Do you want to include all native plants in your environment? Do you have flooding issues and want to use permeable pavers or include a rain garden? Do you want an xeriscape plan (which is a process of landscaping or gardening that eliminates the need for irrigation)?
Another element to consider in your sustainability plan is furniture. Fast furniture is a popular choice, particularly outside. It’s affordable, and thus easy to swap out with each season’s trending styles, but it comes at a huge cost.
As Outer’s Co-Founder Terry Lin recently told The Latch, “Fast furniture is produced in the express lane. Each year, the equivalent of 800,000 three-seat sofas or six million chairs are thrown away, with wealthy nations creating additional GHG emissions by shipping their waste to less-developed nations.”
In trying to innovate in the home furnishing space, many manufacturers are completely removing what furniture is made of. That’s why today a lot of fast furniture is “hollow box construction” which comprises a chipboard structure covered in laminate or veneer. While these flatpacks can seem like a steal, they are susceptible to peeling, swelling, and rotting. Similarly, cheap fabrics are open to damage from the sun, stains, and mold, significantly reducing the time you get to enjoy your new purchase.
So, before buying something “for now”, consider your location and climate, and then invest in furniture made from materials that last.
6. Start Designing NOW!
Depending where you live, it may be cold and snowy, but remember that executing a landscaping design project takes time so it’s never too early to get started. Contractors book up early — especially in these pandemic times. Materials are on short supply and plants can be harder to obtain, so it’s great to get a head start on bringing that vision to life.
If you're not sure where to start, we recommend finding a design partner, like Tilly. Their online process is affordable and easy. You'll be assigned a professional landscape designer who is an expert in your region. After completing an intake form and a video call, your designer will create a custom plan for your yard based on your climate, garden style and needs -- making the design process easier than ever!
7. Order Furniture NOW!
Once you have your design in place, think about your furniture and order it on the earlier side so it arrives in time to enjoy the whole spring season.
Outer offers a buy now, ship in spring option for harsher climates where storing new patio furniture for the winter would be a burden.
8. Prepare Your Yard
Begin prepping your yard. Are there trees that need to be trimmed? Invasive species that need to be removed? A wooded area that needs to be tamed? Start now so you are ready to go when the time comes.
Ready to get started? We can’t wait to see what you dream up!