The Great Outdoors: Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space

Whether you have a city apartment with a roof deck, a balcony, or a terrace, or a suburban home with a patch of green yard, you can do a lot of magic to the outdoor space you have. Many people neglect this extra real estate without realizing that many can utilize and transform it into an area almost no one wants to leave. With careful study and planning, you can turn an ordinary outdoor space into someplace fun, relaxing, or valuable or all of the above.

Starting Your Outdoor Project

Any outdoor project will mean extra expenses on your end. But this is an investment you won’t want to miss. Here are a few things you must consider before starting this project:

Choose Your Garden

Tempting as it is, before you start shopping for furniture or foliage, first decide how you want to utilize the space you have. Will you be hosting many parties or is your home your friends’ favorite place to hang out? Do you need a quiet space where you can relax? Do you have kids who need to always be on the move? Or is this to serve as an extension for your small-ish apartment? Once you’ve decided on how you would like to maximize this outdoor space, then you can begin visualizing its elements like seating, decor, fixed structures you may want to build, plants, and other features.

Decide on a Theme

Your outdoor space is ideally an expression of yourself. Follow your sense of style, regardless of whether you are designing yourself or hiring a professional. Picking a theme will help narrow down all the design ideas you might have. Is it a minimalist Japanese garden or a cozy countryside space that will complete the look of your intended outdoor dining space? Is it a rustic barn or a French country field of pastels that will finish the look of your intended patio? You can best visualize these themes with your intentions for the space and then match it to the surrounding scenery if you can. This way, you can refine the fixtures and foliage you will need.

outdoor garden

Consider Your Surroundings

Every outdoor space will come packaged with surrounding views. Say you have a roof deck with a breathtaking view of the city horizon. Take advantage of this and place your furniture in such a way that you’ll have this expansive scenery on eye level. Or maybe you have a backyard that’s dwarfed over by a neighboring brownstone. Build on this and create a natural shade of your own with flowing foliage, cozy seats, and mood lighting.

Not all spaces will have manifest focal points. If this describes the area you have, you can decide which you want for yours. If you have a narrow balcony and all you see is a chorus of skyscrapers in monotone, you can zero in on where the sun sets and position every aspect to focus on that.

Putting Your Garden Together

After getting all you need and deciding on a theme, now is when you apply your vision to your project. You’ll need to keep the following in mind as you begin this project.

Position Is Everything

If the outdoor space you have is limited, use plenty of hanging plants, stow-away stools, or folding benches. If you must, keep outdoor seating to a minimum so you have space for movement, especially if you intend for the space to be a grilling spot where you and your friends can barbecue and play weekend poker. Say you are installing a hot tub. You’ll need your space for the tub and perhaps have a couple of folding lounge chairs on the ready. If you want to start a greenhouse or urban farm, take inspiration and advice from hydroponic farming providers who can install vertical planting systems for you.

Furniture and Decor

Remember that all outdoor furniture will be most prone to wear and tear because of exposure to natural elements. Also, they will require regular cleaning and periodic maintenance. Before you invest, consider the level of upkeep that’s manageable to you. Aluminum furniture, for instance, is often lightweight, convenient, and affordable. But they are also susceptible to being blown around or away by extreme winds. Wooden furniture can be sturdy yet requires treatment and maintenance to avert decay.

To maximize space, consider multi-functional furniture such as in-built storage benches, foldable futons or cushions made of vinyl or polyester, or weather-treated ottomans that can double as a seat or tabletop.


Your outdoor space is a valuable asset anywhere in the country you might be. You have the liberty to be as creative and resourceful as you can be as you supplement your indoor living space. All it needs is careful assessment and planning, and you can turn any plain outdoor space, big or small, into someplace extraordinary and an absolute joy to be in.

The Author

Scroll to Top