Eden: 10 Ways to Beautify Your Outdoor Space
Log Home Living, July 2004
sun and the moon, the grass and the trees. The beauty out
your back door may be intoxicating, but if you don’t
have the proper setup to enjoy it—or worse, you’ve
created an outdoor living area that detracts from
nature’s bounty—you’re missing out on half the
reason people build log homes.
idea is to design the same inviting atmosphere outside
that you did in your great room, kitchen and sunroom. So
experiment with these tips to treat your outdoor space as
thoughtfully as you do your indoor rooms, and turn your
surroundings into something special.
Run for Cover.
A covered, outdoor sitting area adds another dimension to
your retreat. After all, what’s more perfect than
relaxing outdoors with a cup of coffee, a good book, and
the soft morning rain pattering overhead?
Even with spectacular views surrounding your log home,
unattractive furniture can detract from its overall
ambience. Pitch the past-its-prime plastic patio furniture
and invest in a few upscale pieces to punch up comfort and
aesthetics. Wood and metal seating options lend a more
artful and natural touch. Still pining for
maintenance-free plastic? New resin designs offer
colorful, sturdy seating that will put your plastic
perches out to pasture. If you’ve decided on stone or
wood benches, add a splash of color and comfort with
patterned cushions (Choose padding that can be removed and
stored to protect them from rain and other harsh
3. Go With the Flow. If your property isn’t near a stream or lake, install a water feature
to complete the charm of your bucolic setting. Fountains,
waterfalls, small ponds and other aquatic elements add
beauty, as well as the pleasing sound of flowing water and
a habitat for fish and birds.
if you’re nowhere near the wet stuff, you can create
your own waterfall. Install an underground cistern that
will recirculate water that cascades over strategically
Screen Out Eyesores.
Today’s modern log homes often come equipped with an
unsightly outdoor air conditioning unit. To disguise this
unnatural eyesore, hide it behind a decorative screen.
Build a simple lattice structure that you can train vines
to climb for a traditional and elegant garden. For a
rustic atmosphere, create a folding screen from discarded
shutters or old doors hinged together.
Get Decked Out.
Decks are a popular way to create more outdoor living
space and can be decorated easily with furnishings,
planters and garden art. Traditionally, decks were
constructed of long-lasting cedar or redwood. Now, plastic
and wood composite decking materials have grown in
popularity as a low-maintenance alternative.
6. Keep It Simple. Resist the temptation to overdo your planting areas. Expansive plantings
are out of character surrounding a log home, according to
Paul George, landscape architect and owner of
in Bellingham, Washington. A few
well-chosen plants go a long way to provide color, texture
should select plants that can adapt easily to your
home’s locale, and you should consider aesthetics as
well as regional climate and terrain. If you’re in a
woodland setting, dwarf conifers add interest without
overpowering the setting. Ornamental grasses such as
Miscanthus are a logical choice for a seaside setting.
7. Grow Wild Things. Utilize another abundant natural element to add interest to your
yard—invite the wildlife to drop by. Incorporate native
plants such as azalea and butterfly bush to attract birds
can also put out the wildlife welcome mat by installing
decorative bird and bat houses. These visitors offer
nature’s best way of keeping mosquitoes, moths and
beetles at bay, while their homes add architectural detail
to your environs. To keep unwanted scavengers (think
raccoons, mice and bears) out of your yard, move garbage
cans to a shed and avoid setting out food. This means
hanging bird feeders up high.
8. Light the Way.
Guide the way and add a touch of drama with outdoor lighting. A
low-voltage lighting system creates ambiance as well as a
safe passageway at night. A few well-placed spot lights
also will highlight interesting shrubs or trees, as well
as your home’s architecture.
Map Out a Path. Most
people focus on landscaping when dreaming of how to
decorate their yards, but hardscaping is equally
important. Paths, retaining walls, and patios define
planted areas, look pretty and are functional.
gravel walkways edged with native rocks are perfect for a
rustic setting. Flagstone for a path or a patio is equally
popular. Set the stones on a bed of sand and gravel and
plant moss or fragrant thyme between them.
10. Trim With Art.
When you think of garden art, do concrete gnomes or plastic pink
flamingoes come to mind? Think again! Today’s variety
garden ornamentation is far more sophisticated—from
detailed sculptures to simple sundials—and provides a
personal touch to your yard. Select object d’art that
appeal to you; if you like it, you can make it work in
your landscape plan. But remember that it’s best to use
a light hand: An abundance of garden art can distract from
your yard’s overall appeal.
decorating your outdoor retreat, have fun and be creative.
The ideal setting is one that is a comfortable resting
area for you and your family while enhancing the sights,
sounds and smells of the surrounding landscape and local
fauna. This is your private outdoor sanctuary, so try
something new to enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Can’t take the heat? Then get out of the kitchen and
move your gastronomical gear to the great outdoors.
fresco kitchens are all the rage and can be as simple as a
crumb of counter space above drawers that hold cooking
gear next to the grill, or as elaborate as your indoor
setup, with a grill, gas burner, warming drawer, deep
fryer, refrigerator and sink.
hybrid barbecues and grills mean you don’t need to
choose between gas and charcoal; these stainless steel
beauties have both. Splurge on a high-end model that
includes a pit/smoker and three-burner gas grill (take
your pick of infra red, H-type, or pressure burners with
up to 40,000 BTU of cooking power). A slide-out drip pan
makes clean up a snap.
a side burner that lets you boil water, sauté vegetables
and complete other cooking tasks that enhance a meal. And
don’t forget a sink for easy cleaning; choose stainless
steel, which won’t corrode.
mini-fridge conveniently below a weather-resistant
masonry, slate or granite countertop, keeping all your
cold ingredients close by. Like other outdoor kitchen
appliances, the mini-fridge is specifically designed for
use outside, with stronger compressors to combat
summer’s sweltering heat and tighter seal so wildlife
can’t sniff out food or pry doors open. Consider
installing a pair to double your cold storage capacity.
to keep the eating area near the cooking station for easy
transport from grill to table. The set up can be casual
barstools pushed up to a high eating counter or a
sprawling table covered with linens and protected by an
consider other accessories that make outdoor cooking more
convenient and fuss-free. Stainless steel, tilt-out trash
can bins keep refuse (and odors) hidden. An outdoor
pantry, made of stainless steel and stored below the
counter, holds paper goods, spices, dishes and other
culinary gear for easy access.
Stacee Sledge is a
professional writer who shares her culinary opinion in a
weekly restaurant review column for the
Herald, in Washington State.
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