To figure out traffic patterns, think about how you will enter this outdoor room. Will it be mostly from the house? Is the approach a path from the house or porch? Are there other areas, such as garden beds, potting sheds, bird baths, or lawn seating, that should determine exits from the patio or deck? It can be irritating to have to circumvent a deck rail or hedge to get to a frequently used destination, such as the potting shed or the barbecue grill. Figuring out potential trouble spots in advance will save you time and aggravation.
Most open spaces look best when they are defined by either hedges or fencing. Low plantings provide definition without impeding the view. Choices are nearly endless, ranging from clipped boxwood and privet hedges to low-growing junipers to a flower border of perennials or annuals. Consider what colors and fragrances you would like to have.
For even greater privacy-or to formalize the boundaries of a deck or patio-opt for fencing. Height depends upon your situation. A low slatted fence is a good choice for containing small children without blocking the view or interfering with the flow of air. Taller options that also allow air to flow and only partially block the view include lattice panels and alternating-board fences. Deck railing and fencing are often designed with built-in seating, consisting of attached uprights, rails, and benches that may contain storage underneath.
Lighting defines spaces at night. It is also a safety factor. Both on-deck and in-ground systems with low voltage can be easily installed by a do-it-yourselfer. Other systems can be intricate and costly and may require a licensed electrician. Features may include fixtures for highlighting plantings or other yard features and timed sequencing that turns on and off automatically or when triggered by motion.
Copyright 2009 Rhonda Morin, MyInteriorDecorator.com. May not be reprinted.