When the decision is made to shift your family focus from making the house into a home to transforming your yard into an outdoor living space, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed. In a world full of options, features, materials and outdoor professionals, how do you know what to do, where to start, who to trust? All very good questions, and a topic that we would love to break down to explain the benefits of working with an outdoor living design/build firm and how to invest wisely in your outdoor living space.
Honestly not to sound biased, but it’s true, no outdoor living transformation should begin without a master plan. Just as you wouldn’t build a house or head out on a two-week vacation without a clear plan and map, an outdoor living transformation requires the same process of comprehensive planning and mapping. A master plan acts as a long-term blueprint for your property, complete with deck spaces, hardscaping, water/fire accents, lighting, and landscaping plans and all other functional and beautiful features on your outdoor wish list. Even if your ultimate goal is to conquer the backyard in suitable phases, a master plan will ensure that everything is thought out and implemented in a practical, logical and affordable sequence.
Careful planning helps to avoid spending extra time and money in the future, ensuring ample forethought is put into timing and feature placement so no surprises arise like having to remove plantings to make way for equipment or beating up a freshly laid patio to gain access for a swimming pool. Just as you would pay an architect to design a new construction home, this true professional code-compliant outdoor design expertise should also come with an assigned fee. Design charges vary per professional firm, but this upfront expense is a safe investment, guaranteeing all project features will fit and flow as they should, saving more money with one master plan than having to design numerous projects over time.
When planning on transforming your backyard into an extended livable outdoor space, it is easy to get carried away, wanting to include everything, even the outdoor kitchen sink. Dream dollars aren’t connected to a real bank account, so before you go overboard and have to waste time bringing your ideas back to reality, take a step back and ask yourselves how often you see your family using certain wish list items and how much enjoyment you will have with those items. For example, ask yourself how often to see your family gathering around a full-scale masonry fireplace; if the answer is seldom, then consider an alternative! A portable fire table will give you the same result as a permanent fire feature, but you will have the ability to move it around and put it away when not in use, giving your family more room to roam. If you’re not convinced your family will use a proposed hot tub more than 2/3 times a week, year-round, opt to sink that earmarked money into features that will enhance your space, like landscape lighting!
There is no guidebook saying you must purchase particular outdoor items to be considered a success or that you transformed your backyard “the right way”. Every family is different and have unique tastes, this is why MasterPLAN creates custom outdoor living spaces that make sense for each family and their own needs.
Once you have fallen in love with your comprehensive master plan and are fully confident that each feature has its place in your backyard and in the lives of your family, it is important to understand that investing in skilled craftsmen is central to the proper installation of your outdoor living space. This is a glaring example of why a design/build firm has more invested in your outdoor living space than a sole contractor. Design/build firms employ and contract with trusted craftsmen who are dedicated to providing a properly installed quality project, whereas deck builders, for example, will come in, build a deck and that’s the end of the transaction. Design/build firms understand why this new outdoor living space is important to you; it is more than a deck, pool or patio, it is where you will raise your children or have your grandkids take their prom photos…it’s the backdrop of your life! Investing in thoughtful design, skilled artisans and quality materials will provide sheer assurance that you’re making wise and informed decisions for your family.
Which leads us to mention another wise decision, investing in durable and reliable materials for your new outdoor living space! There are always going to be good-better-best options for every feature you incorporate into your backyard, but permanent features like patios, walkways, retaining walls, steps/staircases and decks should be installed with the best quality materials possible. Long-lasting materials like natural stone, tropical hardwood and low-maintenance composite decking are all versatile yet tough materials that will stand the test of time, providing years of worry-free enjoyment. Cutting corners and opting for a cheaper material for features that need to remain durable will end up causing headaches and problems in the future, so facing the upfront cost of better materials is quite sensible in the long-run.
When the hardscaping and feature items have been installed in the backyard, the job isn’t quite done yet! Landscaping, especially evergreens and perennials are a key component to bringing a cohesive and finished feel to a space. Unlike annual flowers and plants, perennials will come back every year, creating a beautiful growing landscape of color and fragrance. Protecting your landscaping investment, it is also a very practical decision to opt for a drip-irrigation system in your landscaping beds. If you don’t like the idea of plant maintenance, feel that you will be forgetful in the watering schedule or love to travel, an irrigation system will save the cost of having to replace plants time, after time, after time. Your landscape designer can provide programmable timers so you won’t need to worry about when to water and how much! Set-it and forget-it is the epitome of low-maintenance.
Lastly, landscape lighting is almost an invaluable investment when it comes to outdoor living spaces. Low voltage landscape lighting replaces those old, big-box store solar lights that work for a month, then only when they want to. Professionally installed path lighting ensures safe travels for your friends and family, well lights can beautifully highlight hardscaping and landscaping features and bullet lights romantically illuminate landscaping focal points, all creating a dramatic yet welcoming feel to the outdoor living space. A well-planned and executed landscape lighting system not only adds personal value to the space but can also add up to 20% to your home’s value!
Arguably, it feels like almost every aspect of a backyard transformation is a good form of investment, which is what can make the decision process challenging. However, you can not go wrong with partnering with a reputable and creative outdoor living design/build firm, quality craftsmanship and materials, paired together, this is a recipe for success!
Serving the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey, MasterPLAN Outdoor Living would love to partner with you in your journey to transform your backyard into your own beautiful and functional outdoor living space! Guiding you through the design/build process, MasterPLAN ensures to create a backyard oasis that suits your family’s needs while perfectly complementing your property and lifestyle! If you are ready to open the conversation of uncovering the true potential of your property, reach out to MasterPLAN, we would love to hear from you!
Stay up to date with what is happening with MasterPLAN Outdoor Living.
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With over 20 years of experience, MasterPLAN is able to create beautiful outdoor living spaces to complement all types of landscapes.