Jared Gilman, owner, A&D Landscaping 

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors, she knew what she was talking about. Being outside is good for our mental and physical well-being. An anthropological UCLA study, in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices — tablets, computers, televisions, games — for keeping us cooped up. Let’s make a pledge to set down the technology and pay more attention to outdoor living so you can be happier, create lasting memories and take advantage of what our homes have to offer.

“Outdoor living” is a term that is often used when referring to landscape. But what is it? It is essentially extending the living space and activities you enjoy in your home to the outdoors. Most of us have a barbecue grill; this is the most basic outdoor living element. It can then be expanded to include a table and chairs to form an outdoor “kitchen.” There has been an increased demand to improve upon the basic outdoor living space. This can be as simple as expanding our patios to accommodate more people. There are many things that can be done to take a basic outdoor living space and make it fantastic. Selecting the right elements to incorporate into your landscape can be what makes all the difference.

Consider these outdoor elements as you look for opportunities to enhance your outdoor living experience and draw your family outdoors.


Use up lighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points. Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling and reading easier. Illuminate walkways, rails and steps with lights to improve visibility through the landscape. Hang fairy or string lights to create atmosphere.


Pavers are a great way to add color and texture to a patio. There are so many patterns and colors that can really make a patio stand out.


Seat walls can be a very practical, especially for a small yard with limited space. They not only look great, but provide seating without taking up as much space as a chair. You can build raised planters with seating so you define space and visually soften the area with plants.


Pergolas can range is size, style and price. They can be anything from rough sawn timber to power-coated steel to an enclosed roof with lighting and ventilation. Pergolas provide shade and protection from the elements so you can enjoy your outdoor living space year round.


A fire pit can be as simple as a hole in the ground with some camp chairs around it. They are great for gatherings where you can enjoy cooking a meal or enjoy a nice conversation by the fire. There are a multitude of options for fire pits. They can be constructed of stone, brick, steel or other material and come in wood burning or gas. It comes down to a personal preference.


Outdoor kitchens have taken the simple grill and expanded it to full kitchens with sinks, fridges, smokers, pizza ovens, grills and burners. They can be anything from a small bar with a grill to a large covered kitchen with large counters with bars and multiple cooking appliances.

Outdoor living spaces can range in scale and price. They can also add value to your home and your quality of living. These spaces are meant to bring people together and bring your indoor living outside. Take advantage of improving your quality of life as you consider implementing some of these elements to draw you and your family outdoors.

Top Outdoor Design Elements

Provided by The American Society of Landscape Architects
Outdoor Lighting: 98.3%
Seating/Dining: 97.7%
Fire Pits and Fire Places: 95.4%
Grills: 94.3%
Installed Seating: 89.4%
Outdoor Furniture: 84.1%
Counter Space: 75.5%
Wireless Outdoor Conductivity: 66%