Planning Outdoor Living Spaces Expert Tips

Tile Landscape

Beautiful outdoor living spaces can be designed yourself if you know a few basics. In a recent interview exterior design expert Justine Blanda-Wengrod, of Justine Designs in Los Angeles, California, explained how homeowners can plan their own landscaping features as well as some tips on saving money with your landscape.

Planning Outdoor Living Spaces

LTK Garden asked landscape designer Justine Blanda-Wengrod for some ideas that homeowners can use to plan their own outdoor living spaces.

What Things Need to be Considered?

Here are some tips and considerations for homeowners to ponder as they begin creating an outdoor space:

Assess Your Budget and Needs


Decide what you have room for and how you plan to utilize the space. Creating an elaborate outdoor kitchen, a simple dining room or sitting area by the fireplace all require enough space to accommodate the necessary amenities.How many do you want to seat at one given time? Is there enough space for an eight-foot sofa or will upholstered chairs with ottomans work better? Is there room for an outdoor sink? Where will you cook? Where will you be dining with guests?


This is an area to sit and enjoy, not just a concrete slab floor but an area that flows with the style of the home it surrounds. Tile, flagstone and stained concrete to cover the ground provide texture, character and color while enhancing the organic flavor of being with nature.

Focal Point

This is what you prefer to view while enjoying your space. Many want to create a focal point. Should it be a fountain, How to Build an Outdoor Fireplace|fireplace]], the rear view of the home, the pool, the ocean or lush gardens?

Once you know the focal point, measure, create it and build the rest of the room around it. Remember to be leaving space for plenty of plants, trees and vines to surround your space.



Leave plenty of room for plants, trees and hedges to surround your space. Planting a five-gallon plant will require more space than a one-gallon plant.

Leave enough room for sprinklers and drainage pipes so water can drain away from the home. It's a good idea to create a six to eight inch drainage trench filled with sand and covered with pebbles to go around the perimeter of your home for water run-off.


Don't be afraid to be creative and use vibrant color on walls to enhance the illusions of space and to create depth that highlight the colors of your plants. The same goes for your furniture.


Make sure you choose comfortable, stylish chairs that are stain and mildew resistant. Sunbrella Furniture Fabrics makes many choices of outdoor fabric in solid colors and prints.


Laying Tile

Choose accessories that compliment the style of your home. Some ideas include:

  • Malibu tiles
  • Contemporary pots
  • Multi-colored cushions
  • Hanging lanterns in trees
  • Coordinating waterproof rugs
  • Wireless TV
  • Hidden speakers
  • A mini-fridge to hold you favorite beverages.

These are just a few elements to enhance your outdoor living room.


Accent with candles for mood lighting, chandeliers, sconces and plenty of low voltage lighting to accent dramatic tree trunks and branches. Illuminate plants and pathways with a soft glow by hiding a light fixture behind plants that enhance the moonlight.

Of course, the more complex the designs of outdoor living spaces may require help from professionals. Layout, drainage issues, design concept and knowing which plants to choose are some points to consider.

Save Money with Landscaping

Savvy homeowners who want to save money can follow these tips:

outdoor living space

Clean Up

Rent a bin and clean out old, tired plants, weeds, leaves debris and rocks. Clean out anything that will not be of the design in your new space.

Drain Water Away from Your Home

Install an underground drainage system to ensure that your entire yard drains properly and away from the foundation of your house.

Systems include lateral pipes that are trenched and connected around the yard to channel drains, area drains and downspouts. This system should extend as close to the street as possible.

Water Feature

It's a good idea to plan for a fountain in the early stages of your landscape planning. You can buy ready-made fountains in any size, material and color that are easy to plug into a socket nearby. The socket should be hidden by plants, pots or other decorative accessories.

Choosing Plants and Trees

Monitor the sunlight of the new space. Determine how much sunlight the space receives before choosing your landscape plants. Take notice of your neighbors' yards, landscaping books and magazines to see which plants you favor and will want for your space.

A visit to a local nursery is the easiest way to learn the names of plants as well as the amount of sunlight they'll need and how big they will become. Arrange plants according to height with taller, larger plants toward the back and smaller ones in the front. Keep the surrounding soil green with different types of ground covers or colored, polished pebbles depending on the style you are trying to achieve.

LoveToKnow would like to thank Justine Blanda-Wengrod for sharing her great landscaping tips. Contact her at Justine Designs, Los Angeles, California. The email address is

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Planning Outdoor Living Spaces Expert Tips