So summer’s right around the corner and you’ve probably already started staring longingly out the window, waiting for the weekend. And that’s totally ok! Now’s the time to start planning that backyard shindig with all your friends. But what typically happens after Labor Day? You pack up the lawn chairs and Slip n’ Slide®, roll in the grill and stuff everything in the garage till some time in mid-May when the rolling clouds reveal another sunny season. But that doesn’t have to be the case. New trends in outdoor architecture will help keep your alfresco adventures going all year round.
Bring the Indoors out. Who said you can’t have a couch in the yard? What better way to while away a sweltering afternoon than to kick back outside on your favorite couch with an ice cold lemonade? There’s no reason you should stay cooped up all summer indoors. Bring the family outside and redefine the backyard barbecue. With weather resistant fabrics like acrylic, spun poly and cotton canvas, you can create traditionally indoor spaces like dining rooms and even kitchens outside. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to have a roaring fire pit in the middle of your living room? Ditch the charcoal and get a rotisserie grill or even a pizza oven outdoors.
How to do it? Simple-start with better ingredients. Quality, sustainable building materials ‘weather’ the elements better. When you start planning this outdoor project, take a look into using indigenous stone like marble, sandstone, granite or limestone. Localization can reduce material transportation and production cost and as a bonus, it can add a conversational nuance: “…yeah and the pizza oven? we picked up the materials across town.” Or you could save some trees and explore using engineered wood: a sustainable, carbon-friendly, yet still 100% wood product consisting of reconstituted scraps, chips or wood fragments. Better for the environment, sure, but engineered wood products (or EWP’s) also tend to be much more dense and consistent than conventional lumber – due to the production process. This creates a stronger and more durable product because nooks, knots and cracks have been removed. These natural materials are both heat and cold resistant and even help conserve energy and reduce your electrical bills.
And speaking of ‘going green’, we’d be remiss if we didn’t address Water Conservation. Regardless where you stand on climate change, water conservation is an important consideration in outdoor architectural design. It may appear to be a complex and daunting issue, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to incorporate smart water utilization elements into your project that are subtle, yet surprisingly low maintenance. Gone are the days where a water-guzzling green lawn is a mark of social eminence. A garden that incorporates edible herbs or native (drought-tolerant) plants like succulents can be much easier to maintain and more fragrant or appealing than grass. A desert rose never smelled so sweet! Another type of design element worth merit is the use of permeable paving throughout the yard. Through the use of a multi-layered design, permeable paving collects stormwater runoff and saves you the time and effort spent watering the lawn.
Whether you’re serving hot dogs or hors d’oeuvres, a Saturday afternoon spent languishing in the sun is a delight shared by all. By incorporating sustainable building design into your backyard, you can enjoy an endless summer evening throughout the year – even on a Tuesday! What will you do this summer to enjoy the outdoors? Let us know!
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