How to Take Your Outdoor Space From Ho-Hum to Heavenly

When you go outside your house, do you feel content or is all you can say ho-hum?

Most homeowners take a trip outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air. But to become completely satisfied with the moment, it would be nice if you have an outdoor space where you can feel comfortable and relaxed.

If you want to enjoy backyard barbecues and nights staring at the stars, you’ll need to have a good area where you can spend more time outdoors. But how and where do you start?

With the help of a professional pool and landscape designer, there are some ideas you can try that will elevate your outdoor space from ho-hum into a heavenly refuge.


1. Emphasize foliage as much as flowers

Gone are the days when blossoms are the only stars of the garden. With today’s revolutionary landscape design, dramatic foliage can be just as effective as flowers. Moreover, foliage presents many opportunities for bold color which is hard to find in flowers.

Whereas blossoms come and go during the changing seasons, foliage plants remain a strong visual anchor from spring till fall. To achieve an all-season impact, plant some of these colorful foliage plants in your garden:

  • Artemisia
  • Caladiums
  • Coleus
  • Heuchera (coral bells)
  • Persian shield
  • Begonia rex

Repeat plants for balance

Echo the same shapes and colors of plants within your landscape to give it a cohesive look. If you want a formal design, plants need to be symmetrically balanced on both sides so planted areas look like mirror images. But in an informal design, you achieve balance by giving both sides equal interest and repeating color values and forms.

Repetition helps establish rhythm and unifies the landscape design.

2. Add a swimming pool

Will you still choose to stay outdoors during the summer when the sun is scorching hot? Most people would say “no” but if you have a nice swimming pool where you can cool off, you may change your mind.

A water feature adds a touch of serenity to any outdoor space. Not only is the flow of water soothing, but it also helps relieve the heat during summer. For the winter season, you can install a hot tub and sauna for a full relaxing experience.

3. Put up a dining area outdoors

Why choose to eat indoors when you have a wide space outside that you’re not using? With a simple outdoor table, seating, and a fancy umbrella, you can transform your yard into a pleasant dining area.

The right set-up will encourage you to go outside more. You can start your morning with coffee in the backyard, then end it with a sumptuous dinner fresh off the grill.

4. Soften the hardscape

When left alone, big slabs of stone that function as steps or patio surfacing can look a bit too stiff or cold. Take the edge off your rustic stonework to help it blend better with its natural surroundings. Do this by surrounding stonework with small-leaved ground covers like thyme or spotted dead nettle.

You can plant in cracks between stones or along rock edges to soften hard surfaces and add a welcome color of contrast. Adding encroaching foliage also makes slabs look more like natural stone.

5. Highlight transition areas

Gates, short pillars, or a change in paving are simple ways to indicate that a section of your garden is ending or beginning. For instance, pea gravel underfoot can lead to an oval decorative hardscape flanked by pillars as you exit the formal courtyard.

Decorative interplay in transition areas encourages people to pause and step on a curved path leading to sights yet to be discovered.  

6. Switch up lighting

If you want to enjoy your outdoor space during the evening, good lighting is a key factor to consider. Proper lighting techniques can give you a relaxing atmosphere and have a huge impact on ambiance. You can:

  • Add downward facing lights as these are softer and more flattering compared to upward-facing bulbs.
  • Hang sparkling string lights above your porch or across your patio to create an enchanting evening oasis.

7. Pull in some patterns

Have a backyard bench or a front porch swing? Make a pattern power play by integrating some printed pillows to your seating. You can even mix patterns to add interest or toss in some with solid colored tones.

To get this technique right, stick within a color family then let one print dominate.

8. Give your front entrance a makeover

Look for a creative way to make your front entrance look more cheerful. You can either paint your doors in bold colors or simply set down a doormat that has a fun expression or a summer design. The front entrance is also a great place to hang some flowers or add potted plants, making your guests feel that they’re about to enter a homey paradise.

9. Keep up with maintenance

Winter can cause some damage to your deck. Paint can lose its luster over time. If you want your outdoor space to be an inviting and safe place, regular maintenance should be a priority.

  • Sand your deck; replace rotten wood to enhance appearance and avoid splinters.
  • Get rid of moldy leaves and unwanted dirt by pressure washing.

Touch up paint

There’s nothing more devastating to look at than chipped paint in what could otherwise be a perfect outdoor scene. Whether it’s completely repainting walls or touching up the fence, updating your paint is a nice way to refresh your outdoors.

  • For a minimal change: only touch up areas that appear worn out or chipped.
  • To make a space stand out: consider adding a splash of color.

A paint job is one of the simplest ways to give your patio or any other surface a fresh new look.

Are you ready to transform your outdoor space?

It comes as no surprise that an inviting outdoor space can bring family and friends together. However, before you can host the perfect event and enjoy the weather outdoors, you need to spruce up your backyard first.

Now that you have some ideas on what you need to do, start your backyard makeover by working with a good landscape designer. Once your renovation project is done, you can finally look into your outdoor area with joy as you’re no longer limited to staying inside your home all the time.  


Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.

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