Planning and Prepping Your Outdoor Living Space

Decide how you want to use your outdoor space.
Maybe you've said it before, but this really could be the year you turn your deck or patio into a true outdoor living space. As with any job, creating an outdoor room that looks beautiful and functions well takes a bit of planning and preparation. So don't buy that gorgeous outdoor dining set just yet! First, take the time to make a plan, and your backyard may soon become everyone's favorite room "in" the house.

Set a Budget  Built-in grills, outdoor refrigerators and flagstone patios are beautiful, but the price for these high-end items can quickly add up. If you don't plan on spending several thousands of dollars on your outdoor room, it will be necessary to prioritize your needs. Take a look at your space and decide which changes are most needed to create the kind of space you're dreaming of.

Safety First  Safety is a priority no matter what the budget. Before doing anything else, plan to repair any structural or accessibility problems that may be compromising the safe use of the space.

Landscaping can add privacy to your space.

Party Planning  How do you intend on using your outdoor space? Take an honest assessment of your lifestyle and needs. You may love the idea of having a romantic island getaway in your own backyard, but if your reality is cooking hotdogs and hamburgers for big family get-togethers, that sweet little space for two won't actually be too functional. If it doesn't meet your needs, instead of becoming everyone's favorite place to gather, your deck or patio will become the equivalent of that fancy room at Grandma's no one uses. 

Practical Privacy  Shrubs, dwarf trees, climbing plants, potted plants and trellises can go a long way to create privacy in a not-so-private backyard. Before positioning the hot tub or arranging deck furniture, think about the view from your neighbor's yard. Plan ahead to build new structures or plant a living privacy screen. 

Consider how much of the project you can do yourself.

Easy Care  Just like indoor rooms, outdoor rooms require occasional dusting, sweeping and cob-web removal. Limiting accessories and using only outdoor-safe fabrics will help keep maintenance to a minimum. The use of awnings, umbrellas or a simple portico of some kind will help reduce the amount debris that litters your space.

The last thing to consider is how much of the project can you complete yourself. For a major makeover, you may need to hire a contractor or a professional handyman. However, most of the projects needed to complete an average patio makeover can be completed by a willing DIY enthusiast. Once you've set a budget and prioritized a plan, the rest of the job will seem easy. 

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