Outdoor entertainment areas
… in the landscape design arena are all the rage lately. Why the recent uptick you may ask, people have always had yards to entertain in? Well, this is due in large part to the global COVID-19 pandemic that struck us in early 2020.
At the onset of pandemic, many were willing to comply with quarantining recommendations and limiting our contact with family and friends. However, as the pandemic continued and the nice North Carolina spring and summer weather was upon us. People we were eager to get outside. Not just to enjoy the weather, but the idea of gathering amidst the pandemic was easier to do outside where germs were less likely to spread or linger.
After several months of being held captive in our homes by the Zoom leash, and online school for our kids, many of us were eager to entertain, gather and socialize in person with our friends and family. Plus we wanted to get the kids out of the house! As summer approached and school ended a stark reality hit … what were we going to do for our annual summer vacation/reunion?
The cruise industry
… shutdown almost entirely … ships were left to rot at sea or sold off to smaller cruise ship companies around the globe. All-inclusive resorts shuttered, not to mention many of us didn’t want to travel to bluer waters by plane for fear of the pandemic!
So this almost perfect storm did have a silver lining for the makers of outdoor spaces like us! Once people quickly realized they were not going to be able to go on a typical vacation combined with the fact many of us were working from home Thus the backyard outdoor entertainment makeover scene was bustling. Buyers of these services scrambled to have a fun place for kids and friends to relax as 2020 and the foreseeable future looked as if a “stay-cation” was our only option.
… realized that managing or even just overseeing contractors in their yard was much easier from their home office window instead of their ring cameras from work! We had several customers buy our services, for just these two simple outcomes from the pandemic.
So you may be thinking what were all these stay-cationers planning/building in their backyards? Well, the simple answer was outdoor kitchens and pools. After all, when friends come to call where do most Americans like to hang out…. yep you guessed it, in the kitchen around the food! So outdoor kitchens that included sinks, grills, side burners, refrigerators, trash bins, storage for things like plates and silverware, and of course, bar seating became THE THING!
Pools also complimented many of our design/build outdoor entertainment projects (and everything is part of landscape design). And when I say pool I don’t mean your Uncle Tom’s 4’ deep round above-ground pool….we’re talking in-ground pools, spillover hot tubs, tanning ledges, deck jets and bubblers, slides, diving boards, colored underwater lights, travertine coping and decking, seat ledges, and the list goes on. Many of our projects had to have a little of everything, something for the kids or grandkids to enjoy as well as the adults. After all these features will be our vacation spot for the foreseeable future.
Along with the obvious outdoor kitchen and pool project, many other facets/challenges of the outdoor entertainment area need to be considered. Things like proper grading and drainage were key to a successful project, you don’t want stormwater to drain into your pool and you certainly don’t want to be surrounded by a swamp either. Many buyers were also faced with design challenges to accommodate their need for on-site septic treatment. This means finding the tank and leach lines, but also not negatively impacting them during construction, and making sure the new design doesn’t impact them after the project is installed and functioning over time.
Answering the questions about what and where to do for the pool, outdoor kitchen, and septic system is just the bare minimum. I attribute these features as just the basics, the infrastructure….or just a cake without its frosting.
We say everything starts and ends with design. When growing up and going through school it was impressed upon me that if you can’t draw it, you can’t build it, and if you can’t estimate it, you can’t be in business. Our approach is to start with a site visit and to ask our Clients about their dreams for their outdoor entertainment space….followed by great listening.
Once we hear from the Client about their dreams for their project we also listen and observe what the land/space is telling us. Often times we identify structural (not so cool) aspects of the space that need to be dealt with and incorporated into the design. These aspects include grading and drainage, sunlight or lack thereof, current use of the space….think dogs, kids, parking, storage, etc. called passive as well as active uses.
Once we get the design to the point where a design fits the dreams of the client and the basic infrastructure issues are figured out it’s time to put the proverbial “frosting on the cake”. The frosting can be things like landscape features such as trees, shrubs, perennials, sod, and mulch, as well as outdoor lighting.
What makes a good project great
…is what knits it all together. For instance, we encourage Clients to keep their pool, and especially the spa, as close to the house as possible. No one wants to jump out of their spa in January and walk a long way back to the heated house. Also, outdoor kitchens should be located close to the kitchen in the home. This is especially true if the outdoor kitchen is without adequate refrigerator space, a sink to wash dishes, etc.
If you’re dreaming of a project in your yard, let’s chat and set up a time for us to come visit you and hear all about it!