Outdoor Living in the Pacific Northwest: It’s not just for the summer months!
Long-time residents of the Pacific Northwest know that, in spite of our rainy reputation, we have some of the best weather in the country any time of year and outdoor living here just can’t be beat. Our summers are not too hot or too humid, fall is typically a riot of color and sunshine, and our winters are fairly mild, especially when compared to the long deep freezes the East and Midwest tend to endure. Yes, we do get our fair share of cold, wind and rain, but not enough to keep us from enjoying the outdoors – even in the heart of winter – which is why outdoor living spaces are such a hot commodity and a main feature of so many homes in the Pacific Northwest.
We love designing and installing fantastic outdoor living spaces from the simple to the lavish, but we’ve been doing this long enough to know that all it takes to enjoy outdoor living year-round are really just a few essentials to keep you protected from the elements. Here are some of our top recommendations to make your outdoor space a year-round oasis.
- Add solid surfaces.
Patios, decks, and paths clearly define outdoor spaces and create the footprint for your outdoor “rooms”, kind of like the foundation of your house. They are also the natural starting point for creating outdoor living spaces that can be used and enjoyed year-round.
Stamped concrete, pavers, flagstone, composite decking, even compacted gravel are all excellent choices for making your outdoor spaces more enjoyable in all weather conditions. Whether it’s an outdoor living room, kitchen or grilling station, quiet sitting area, patio or deck, or simply a path to get you from here to there, solid surfaces are a must. You need a strong stable surface that can withstand the elements and provide the support for whatever furniture, appliances or accessories you may be adding, and you don’t want to be walking about in the mud after one of our rainstorms. Nobody likes tracking in mud, and mud splashing up onto your patio furniture is no fun either, so let’s keep it to a minimum!
- Provide shelter.
You know it rains here, and you know it can rain a lot, so it should go without saying that to enjoy your outdoor space all year long, you need a cover over your head just as much as you need a solid surface beneath your feet. From the simple to the grand, there are a plethora of options for covering a patio or deck, including adding a pergola, extending your roof, building a gazebo, or creating a ceiling under an existing balcony or deck. Each of these different types of covered structures have unique advantages and challenges, so our designers at Landscape East & West always provide a thorough consultation and review of a property before jumping into a custom design.
- Create light.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying long evenings spent outside chatting with family and friends, but all too often we head indoors once the sun goes down. Well, with a little planning and proper installation, adding light to your yard, walkways, covered patio or deck will make all the difference to set the stage for your extended outdoor evenings. With proper outdoor lighting, from custom overhead lighting, to wall-sconces, pathway markers, and landscape lights, your nighttime patio or yard can be transformed into a magical oasis in the dark, creating warmth and beauty throughout the seasons.
- Add warmth.
Besides the rain, the cold is more apt to drive us indoors than anything else. Luckily, there are a lot of options when it comes to heating up your outdoor space: fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters. There are important considerations, though, and determining what will work best in your space should be based on not only the aesthetic you are after but also the type and source of fuel or power needed and what will be feasible in your given space. This is another area where an experienced landscape designer can help you sift through all the options and find the right solution for your space to give you all the warmth and ambiance you desire.
- Create form and function.
The addition of short retaining walls, seat walls or built in benches or planters around patios can help keep nature in check, while adding both form and function. Low walls will define a space and add cohesiveness to an overall design, plus provide a bit of a protective barrier between patio and yard. Built in seating can also expand your outdoor living space as less room may be needed for additional furniture. Low or half walls can also serve to provide additional privacy. You may even want to entirely close off the space with a gate to keep small animals in, or out!
- Have fun!
Are you a grill master? Do you love cooking and entertaining outdoors? What about music or a big screen TV? Maybe a hot tub under your gazebo is the piece de resistance you’re after. The point is, you can have pretty much anything you want in your outdoor space – so why not have a little fun? We love getting creative with our clients and have enjoyed designing and building hundreds of outdoor spaces over the years, complete with wood-burning pizza ovens, gas ranges and grills, surround sound, water features and more.
With so many options, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild when you start dreaming about your outdoor space and creating that perfect year-round oasis. In the end though, the various elements you want to bring into your outdoor living space really comes down to two things: How you want to use the space, and the design aesthetic you are after. After that, it’s a matter of working out the details and an experienced designer will be your best friend to help you through the process.
We have been helping Pacific Northwesterners for more than three decades bring the indoors out and extend living spaces beyond the walls of their homes with custom designed spaces meant for year-round enjoyment. Winter is just around the corner and while it is a bit late in the year to have a new outdoor space in time for the coming season, it is the perfect time to begin planning for next year – before your landscape designer gets busy again next spring!
We love making dreams come true, so contact Landscape East & West today and let’s start dreaming about your perfect outdoor living space.