Believe it or not, the best time to jump on an outdoor project is before the weather allows you to use it once it's finished. Late winter through early spring is the ideal time to think about what you want for outdoor entertainment in the summer, talk to your Personal Home Contractor, and get it booked. If you wait any later, you risk your contractor being too busy with other outdoor entertainment projects.
Enduring winter weather also gives you the perfect opportunity to dream about what you want to do outside in the summer. To provide you with a jump start, we'll define some outdoor entertainment terms, including structures that you could add to your outdoor living space:
Patio: A patio is a surface typically made of a concrete slab, pavers, bricks, or outdoor tiles. It provides a designated space for outdoor furniture and activities. It can be, but doesn't need to be, attached to the home. Homes can have a patio in their front yard and backyard, but their back patio is typically more extensive. Patios are at ground level.
Porch: A porch provides designated outdoor furniture and activities like a patio. A home can have a porch in both the front yard and backyard, and it can also have one that wraps around the house from the front yard to the backyard (a wrap-around porch). A porch differs from a patio because it is always attached to the home, is not ground level, and uses decking materials for the floor. Porches require guard railing if they have a couple of steps up. A porch and a deck are very similar.
Deck: A deck is a raised surface for outdoor furniture and activities. It can be in the front yard, backyard, or on your roof. Only on infrequent occasions is it not attached to the home. A deck can sometimes be placed off the side or back of a house with access from the second story, but in this case, it's not a deck but rather a balcony unless it has stairs from the outside ground up onto the deck. Decks are built from wood planks or composite decking planks like TimberTech. Decks that require more than a few steps up need guardrails.
Covered patio or porch: A covered patio or porch is just that: covered! The covering protects the patio or porch from weather and sun. An awning or roof can cover them. Lights, ceiling fans, and outdoor heaters can be attached to the roof of a covered patio/porch. The functional and beautiful timber framing can create the structure to hold up the roof. Building skylights into the ceiling can provide a controlled amount of outdoor light.
Double-decker deck: A double-decker deck is a deck that spans two stories. It is permanently attached to the home. It is always in the backyard. Often, double-decker decks are built in hilly areas because the house's front entrance is at a higher elevation than the back entrance, allowing for a walk-out basement. The basement has a deck, porch, or patio that it steps out onto, and the main story also has its deck—creating a double-decker deck. Some people choose to make the lower deck a screened-in space.
Accessory dwelling unit (ADU): An ADU is a building not attached to the house that homeowners can use for many things. ADU buildings match or complement the style of the home. They can rent it out. They can make it into a mother-in-law apartment, yoga studio, art studio, homeschooling space, separate living area, man cave, or she shed. ADUs are always in the backyard. They always have electricity. To be considered a true ADU, they must connect to water and sewage.
Shed: A shed is a detached structure that adds storage space to the property in the backyard. A shed has a roof and siding but no windows. It also has a set of doors to store large items more accessible.
Pergola: A pergola is a wooden structure that provides a semi-shaded space to sit or walk under. It has posts that hold up latticed crossbeams. It can be attached to a home in the backyard, but it can also be a separate structure. It's more physically appealing than practical because sunshine and rain can come through it. However, some people choose to have a waterproof canvas or tarp attached to the top of their pergola to provide more protection from rain and sun. The pergola’s location is on grass, a patio, or a deck. The structure is on the ground or raised. Pergolas are fantastic structures to grow vine plants on.1
Gazebo: A gazebo is a stand-alone deck with a roof built off the ground. Traditionally, it was round, hexagonal, or octagonal. However, modern-day gazebos can also be square or rectangular. It can have built-in seating and guard rails. It provides a nice place to sit and enjoy lovely weather in part of the backyard, many steps away from home. Typically, gazebos overlook a view of a body of water or a beautiful garden.
Arbor: An arbor is a small, simple wooden (or plastic) curved structure, making it easy to walk under. It is either free-standing or attached to the gate opening of a fence. Usually found in flower gardens, and its purpose is to grow vine plants.
Outdoor kitchen: Building an outdoor kitchen on a patio, porch, or deck in the backyard provides a designated space to keep a grill and cook outdoors. It always has some countertop space, a built-in grill, and storage in the cabinets under the countertops. It sometimes has a sink, a pizza oven, an open shelf for wood log storage, a mini fridge, a space for a keg with a tap, a bar, a built-in griddle, and room for a smoker.
Outdoor bar: Like an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor bar is a space to make things to serve guests. An outdoor bar can just be bar stools placed at countertops with cabinets for storage. However, it can also have a sink, tap, drink fridge, and keg space. Outdoor bars are always in the backyard on a deck, patio, or porch.
Raised bed garden: A raised bed garden is a designated garden space made of wood, metal, or plastic containers. Typically, they are wooden. The containers can be of whatever height works best for the gardener. The raised beds can have a bottom side and legs, so the gardener doesn't have to stoop so low. However, most gardeners choose to have raised beds made short enough that they don't have legs or a bottom. Which means the soil in the bed is directly on top of the ground dirt. Raised beds not only make gardening more accessible, but they also make an organized, visually appealing garden. An extreme example of a raised bed garden is a vertical garden (aka garden wall). A garden wall is a garden bed lifted and attached to a wall.2
Swing structure: Adults deserve to have swings too! An outdoor swing can look like a bench or an outdoor daybed suspended by chains or rope. An outdoor swing can be attached to the ceiling of a covered or screened patio, porch, or deck, or it can be attached to a wooden structure like a pergola. Some people choose to put their outdoor swing structure around a firepit. They're a fun, cute, and relaxing way to provide seating in your outdoor living space.
Pond: A pond is a structure built into the ground that holds water not meant for swimming. It can, however, house animals such as fish and turtles. They make for a nice key feature in a garden.
Pool: A pool is for swimming, wading, or just playing in the water. It can be in the ground or on top of the ground. A pool is always in the backyard.
Hot tub: A hot tub is smaller than a pool holding water. It's not a swimming pool but a relaxation and rehabilitation pool. The hot tub is for soaking in water heated to a comfortable temperature. A hot tub is always in the backyard and can be above or built into the ground.
Sauna: A sauna is a small room to make a person sweat. The room is for relaxation and rehabilitation. It can be an attached or detached structure from the home. Saunas are typically made from wood to give a traditional feeling.
Outdoor shower: An outdoor shower is a shower outside. Its primary purpose is for muddy kids, dirty dogs, or people about to get into a pool or hot tub or to shower off after having been in a chlorinated pool or hot tub. An outdoor shower is a luxurious way to bring a little vacation feel to a home and keep the indoors clean.3
Privacy screen: A privacy screen is typically a thin wooden or metal wall built wherever the yard needs more privacy from neighbors. Plants can be grown on a privacy screen to make it even more visually and audibly private and appealing. An excellent example of a smart placement of a privacy screen is near a hot tub.
Fire pit: A fire pit is a structure made of metal or stone. It's a place to have a bonfire. It makes for a great centerpiece to have guests hang out with nearby. Fire pits are always in backyards. A fire pit can be raised, at ground level, or slightly dug into the ground. It can also be a built-in structure or a stand-alone, moveable structure.
Fireplace: An outdoor fireplace might be just for those who don't want a fire pit out in the open. It can be built into a stone or brick structure to create a centerpiece to gather around while entertaining. It's an excellent way to bring warmth outside to extend the entertaining outdoor season.
Bench: Benches are a great and easy way to add seats to your outdoor entertainment area. They are made from wood or composite planks and make a great addition to decks, porches, pergolas, or gazebos. They are great around a firepit. Modern benches are more visually attractive and practical than traditional benches. They can have seats with hinges that open for storage.4
Fence: Fences are wooden, metal, stone, plastic, or botanical structures that designate a yard as separate and private. They are a great way to protect dogs, kids, and property. A good fence will almost completely drown out the presence of whatever is beyond it, providing a peaceful yard.
Pathways: Creating pathways in your yard is a great way to connect different areas. There are many distinct materials to choose from in making your path, stone, brick, concrete, stamped concrete, rock, gravel, pavers, wooden planks, cut logs, or composite planks.
If any outdoor entertainment structures inspire you to create your dream outdoor entertainment space, call your Personal Home Contractor, Shirey Home Pro! We will visit your property and work with you to make your outdoor dream list. We can then work with our designer to complete your plans and execute them so that you will gain the outdoor living space of your dreams!