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    Updated Family Environment For All Seasons

    When it comes to priorities in the lives of homeowners, few can argue that the family will be at the top of the list for most of us.  Family can be a very large motivating factor when considering hiring a company to complete a series of backyard patio designs.  As our families go through different stages in life, the outdoor needs of the family change.  Take, for example, a new family purchasing a starter home. The home’s aesthetics may take on a high priority, focusing on front yard landscaping ideas, and curb appeal, giving the home an updated look.

    Family Matters

    As a family grows, and the child or children are in a playful discovery stage, backyard designs should have certain elements to encourage time to be spent outside playing or learning about the world around them.  In most cases, an area for a playset becomes an essential part of the space available in the backyard for families with toddlers and younger children between the ages of 2 and 8.  There are other ways to develop places meant to encourage play and imagination other than a playset and they could include; development of a wiffleball area or space for games or other sports, utilizing large landscape rocks to climb on, creating other playful elements such as rope swings, hammocks in sandy areas meant for creative play and rest and even flower bed designs that would allow kids to grow their own flowers for cutting and displaying in their room or growing vegetables to enjoy as a family.

    As a family starts to mature, and the kids start to get out of the playset stage, the priorities of the outdoor space change.  In this residential case, a family who has been in their house for over 20 years now, chose to shift their backyard focus to a social atmosphere which includes; a fire table, a new grilling and foodservice counter, a hot tub and a comfortable , shaded outdoor living room complete with weatherproof television and a fan to deter mosquitoes.  The entire motivation behind this substantial landscape investment was to create a space outside where the family could watch their beloved Green Bay Packers every week in any weather.

    The old outdated family space.

    Design Process

    In designing this space, a priority list was compiled after the initial introduction meeting.  After contracting with the clients for a landscape design phase, we developed a preliminary concept plan, integrating the elements that were important to the clients.  Through the exploration of the area available for development in scaled landscape design, the client identified a target space they felt most comfortable. The preliminary concept was then modified to place a greater focus on spatial development in this area.  We worked together to conceptualize a backdrop, which would provide privacy as well as present an opportunity to mount a television and set up a sound system. What we ended up doing was integrating a wall on one side of the planned pergola and using reclaimed barnwood, mounted to a treated timber frame, to give a practical backdrop and create a pleasing aesthetic.

    Besides the entertainment area, the priorities on this outdoor room included; an area for grilling and serving food, a space for a fire pit or fire table, shade due to a glaring southern exposure and utilization of large format stone or concrete pavers/landscaping bricks.  Additional priorities included a privacy planting to cut views from the road out, planting of beds surrounding patio space for color and to soften the large area of hardscape.  Integration of flagstone into the paving concept to bring elements of the front yard landscaping to the rear yard and a water element for sound and movement.


    Amendments and Accessories

    After being about 70-80% into the installation process, the client brought a new concept to the table; “If we could introduce a hot tub into the space, then we could watch the football game outside even when it is cold.”  There was really only one practical location for this idea to be executed, so we made plan revisions and submitted these changes in plans to the village for permitting. We determined that this hot tub should be set into the landscape if possible and not just dropped on top of a pad, looking like an afterthought.  We built a 30” retaining wall consisting of segmental wall units around the concrete paver pad that was needed to set the hot tub on top of. This allowed the tub to sit lower in the ground, making access in and out of the tub much easier, as well as allow the tub to be set into the landscape, surrounded by plants and stepstones for easy, clean access with bare feet.

    hot tub

    Finishing touches on the landscape development included modification of the existing irrigation system to accommodate the new patio, installation of transplanted perennials along with new groundcover in surrounding planting beds, and lawn restoration from construction activity.  Finally, low voltage lighting and a 16 speaker sound system rounded out the tech side of the project, and extended the usable hours well into the evening.


    Valued Results

    Now that the backyard has been developed into a place that can handle 20+ people comfortably, in a number of different spaces all with a clear shot of the game on the TV, the Harris family sees a lot more of each other and their extended family on game days, which has brought them closer and reinforced the priority of family in a time of countless commitments and distractions.

    In your next landscape project, consider both where your family dynamic lies, and how that dynamic may change and develop in the coming years and make sure to plan accordingly for the different needs of a maturing family.  A well thought out and developed outdoor room will add both aesthetic and functional value to your home and encourage all in the house to slow down once in awhile and just be able to enjoy each other’s company in a well planned, intimate and relaxing space.

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