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Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Sep 02, 2009

Make Your Yard Reflect Your Lifestyle

A How-To Guide for Personalizing Your Outdoor Space

Every yard can reflect and support a different lifestyle and designing your outdoor space to match your interests is a great way to add personal flavor to your garden or yard. In order to create a space that is reflective of your hobbies, you'll need to start by choosing a theme and then create a plan on how best to utilize the space that you have. Check out our design guides for some inspiration and then let your own creative juices soar!

The Entertainer

If you love to host dinner parties, cocktail parties, or even kid's birthday parties, you should focus your yard plans around creating an open space for eating and milling about. Think about adding fun, colorful outdoor furniture that is both comfortable and stylish for those times when the afternoon picnic turns into a whole night of catching up with old friends or family. Group your furniture into different kinds of seating areas: you can have intimate two-seater combinations as well as group seating in a circle around a table or couches. You'll also want to use durable, low-maintenance material for flooring, such as stone paths, artificial grass, or non-slip tiles so that guests feel comfortable and safe while walking throughout your yard.

The Family

Every fun family yard should have a play area for the kids. Depending on age, this could be a swing set or playground, a mini-basketball court, or a simple green lawn that can be used to play tag, cricket, horseshoes, or any other number of outdoor games. A barbeque and simple picnic table with benches will also create an environment for family bonding. You can play board games on the table as well as eat family dinners or have a quiet evening drink with your husband or wife.

The Meditator

If you work long hours or find yourself constantly on the run taking care of errands for yourself and the family, a relaxing meditation garden might be perfect for you. If this is the case, fill your outdoor space with lush plantings and a few comfortable chairs or chaise lounges from which to relax and enjoy your green scenery, but that won't clutter your space. Adding a pergola or water fountain will add functional beauty and style. And don't forget about adding privacy screening around the perimeter of your yard so that you can relax comfortably without worrying about neighbors or people on the street being able to see into your sanctuary. Aspidistra is a great choice for creating privacy and adding a brilliant green color to your yard. Nandina and bamboo can be sculpted to add a creative touch to your privacy screen. Or go with aralia if you're looking for large, heavily textured leaves.

The Chef

Do you love cooking and eating outside? If you answered yes, then an outdoor cooking center can offer years of fun and delicious food. One of the advantages to an outdoor kitchen is that you can cook at much higher temperatures, which is great for barbeques and baking bread or pizza. Outdoor kitchens can be built with everything from sinks, grills, and refrigerators to wood-fired ovens and lots of counter space. Decide what's most important and practical for you and start out with that item. For many cooks, that necessary item is a barbeque. If you're working on a budget, turn your outdoor kitchen into a work-in-progress and slowly add more items over the course of time until you are satisfied with your outdoor cooking and dining space.

The Gardener

If you love to garden, you'll want to design some practical and beautiful pathways that allow you to reach your plants as well as meander through the greenery. Curving pathways add a nice flair to any garden and can be used to guide people towards different parts of the garden. Perhaps, you'll want your path to lead to a birdbath or an ornamental statue so that your garden can be a home to more than just your plants and vegetables. Lightweight low-to-the-ground stools are great for gardeners who want to be able to sit while they're working. Stools can later be clustered together if you want to enjoy the sight of your hard work with a fellow nature-admirer.

The Bachelor

The typical bachelor pad yard must include two things: a barbeque and a mini-fridge to hold the meat and the beer. If you want to add a dual hang-out/cooking area, a barbeque pit could be just the thing. Add a few chairs or pillows in a circle around the pit to create a comfortable sitting/eating area and pass out a few beers while the meat is cooking. You can also incorporate an outdoor sound system to your yard to give your yard that extra beat.

Once you have your theme in mind, here are a few suggestions to add to the practicality and beauty of your yard: First, keep in mind the traffic patterns of family and friends walking through your yard while designing your themed garden. Second, consider putting fragile plants into planters if you have dogs that like digging things up. Another great garden tip for families with children or pets is to use artificial grass so that you don't have to worry about maintenance. Third, you can create the illusion of more space in a small garden by creating your design and tile flooring on the diagonal. Fourth, if you have a garden wall made of stone or brick, consider adding planters filled with boxwoods on top to add privacy and that lovely green garden feel. Finally, pergola benches are always a practical and beautiful addition to any garden as they add a comfortable place for you to rest as well as a beautiful living space for your flowers to grow.

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