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How to Use Outdoor Space Effectively

Booming real estate prices have led to business owners trying to wring the most out of every square foot of their property. 

From colleges to corporates, lots of money and time is invested into optimizing internal layouts, incorporating functional design, and more. 

But all this seems to end at the threshold. 

Whether it is rooftop terraces or spacious backyards, very often we are met with boring decks, basic lawns, and a few outdoor plant arrangements. If we’re lucky, then maybe we’ll find a pool and a few trees too.

None of which do justice to the immense, majestic potential of outdoor spaces. 

Especially in the dense urban jungles we live in, an outdoor space offers us so much more than a breath of fresh air. 

It gives us the opportunity to be transported to a whole other world. 

A break from the humdrum of everyday life. 

A space to turn off the stress, lower your boundaries and reconnect with the world. 

A hidden world waiting to be discovered.

So how can we use outdoor spaces effectively?

Here are 5 designer-approved ways to use outdoor spaces effectively.

1. Zone your outdoor space

Unless you have an extremely small space, leaving the whole space unsegmented will waste your precious outdoor space more than you think. 

Unless you plan on using the entire outdoor space as a mini-amphitheater, divide your space into separate zones.

biophilic space outdoor

First, decide the kind of activities you’d like to nurture in the space you have. Reading, lounging, working, gathering, dancing, strolling, eating, swimming, etc.

Then create zones for each activity, separated by your circulation zones (a.k.a movement and walking paths).

Now you don’t have to separate these zones with hard walls and fences. Instead, use landscaping elements to do the job for you. 

Use formal walkways, raised decks, or shift from soft grass to hardscape materials to gently demarcate zones. To establish corners and more defined boundaries use a combination of shrubs, hedges, and trees.

While you’re at it, also think about whether each zone needs hard landscaping, a garden-like ambiance, or a mix of both.

This will help you get a visual understanding of how these sections will all come together at the end.

2. Choose the right plants

Yes, every outdoor space can be made green. 

But the kind of plants used and the way the landscape is designed will make a big impact on whether you end up with a chaotic garden, a boring lawn, or a luscious escape.

outdoor landscape

Decide on an overall aesthetic you would like to stick to and then choose plants and trees that fit the vibe.

For example, a Mediterranean-themed outdoor space is best created with Olive trees, succulents, bright bougainvillea, wisterias, and vines.

While picking your theme, you don’t have to feel restrained by the limited types of plants that grow well in our local environment. 

Expand your options by using outdoor silk plants and faux trees that can survive in all weather conditions. 

These real-looking artificial plants will also save you all the effort and cost of watering, pruning, fertilizing, and maintaining your greenery.

3. Create layers of landscaping

While putting together your landscape, don’t just stick to massive trees and ground-hugging shrubs. Having two extreme sizes of plants as the only green can make a space look sparse and bare.

You need plants of all sizes to create a lush garden that feels truly alive. 

outdoor seating area beer garden

Create some depth, by layering your plants vertically. Use mid-sized plants in the 2′ to 5′ range, to create layers of plants. 

Think plants like fiddle leaf figs, monsteras, palms, ficus trees, cane plants, etc.

If your outdoor space is too small to accommodate these larger plants without feeling cluttered, we have a simple solution for you. Stick to smaller plants, but later then vertically. 

Have a few plants at ground level, and then bring in small short stools, wall ledges, benches, or tea tables to place plants on. 

This will elevate plants to a higher level, and create a visual effect of depth. For this, we recommend faux pothos plants, ferns, dracaenas, snake plants, and succulents.

If you’re concerned about the initial setup cost of so many plants, we’ve got a pro tip for you. Plan and buy your artificial plants wholesale to reduce your expenses by a big margin.

4. Be mindful of breathing space

Worried about doing “too much” and overwhelming the viewer with an excess of ornate plants? 

Want to avoid the formality of bordering the entire outdoor space with flowery bushes?  

There’s a simple strategy to avoid both at the same time.

Balance out the lush, overflowing green with spaces that offer a “visual breathing space”. 

There are two ways to do this. 

One, consider using clusters of faux pampas grass in between the lusher, more ornate plants. This will keep the green going, but is still neutral enough to create some visual breathing space. 

Or use other natural features to define the edges and break the monotony. 

Like an organized tumble of small and large boulders to create a rocky aesthetic. Or perhaps a clean stepped waterfall, made of smooth stones to add a soothing touch to the ambiance. 

And if you’re looking for a more contemporary, formal vibe, look to feature walls. A sleek, fluted stone wall, with flowing water and good lighting, will be a total show-stealer, while also creating a soothing visual break. 

5. Use comfortable and convenient furniture

An outdoor space would feel incomplete without the right outdoor furniture for people to occupy it. 

But there’s more to outdoor furniture apart from ensuring it’s weather and waterproof. 

Think of the landscape theme you initially chose, and select furniture pieces that are of the same style.

But do not make the mistake of prioritizing style over comfort and convenience. The best-looking garden space will do no good if no one wants to spend time in it.

Be sure to use the right type of furniture for each activity, to ensure it fits the theme and serves the purpose. 

Finally a quick tip for you: For outdoor lounge areas, use a mixture of garden seating options to allow people to use the space flexibly. 

Think lounge sofa pulled together for a larger discussion, and individual chairs with tables for private conversations, etc.