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Queen Anne Gambrel – Integrated Design for Indoor/Outdoor Living – Board & Vellum

Landscape Architecture

Recent Trends In Outdoor Spaces

Have you noticed a lot of people updating their yards recently? We certainly have. There are a lot of reasons why, but probably most important has been the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic and the way it changed our relationship with the outdoors. Let's explore some of the influencing factors behind all these updates and what we’re seeing as a result.

April 7, 2022

Over the last two years, outdoor spaces have become more important. Not surprisingly since everyone was trapped at home! It took a few months for many of us to start going stir crazy and for data on the impact of adequate ventilation (like being outside) for Covid 19 transmission risk to come out. Once everyone was tired of being inside and knew being outside was relatively safe, the need and desire for functional outdoor spaces boomed. While we slowly start to enter back into a life that looks a little more like pre-pandemic times, the desire for outdoor spaces has only gained more momentum.

Spending more time outside has widened the tolerance zone for many of us.

In the Puget Sound region, west of the Cascades, we really don’t have that terrible of a climate. And the last few years have increased our ability to put up with some of the less desirable aspects of being outside. This trend is going to be durable even as Covid winds down. So, investment in outdoor space will continue to be worthwhile.

We’ve seen four aspects, in particular, driving the desire for outdoor spaces.

Working From Home

If you’re lucky, you have an extra room or attic/basement to use. If you’re like most of us, your bedroom is that space you’ve been spending 80% of your life in – a very constrained environment. Some people love that, but most of us need to get a break and work elsewhere from time to time and the outdoors beckons.

Sunset Hill Overlook – Board & Vellum
Room To Breathe

Outdoor living spaces should feel like an extension of your indoor spaces. Here, this kitchen opens directly onto a large raised deck with plenty of space to spread out, and continue working if you're tired of your desk.

What We’re Seeing

  • Outdoor seating, and not just patio chairs. Built-in deck seating, comfortable exterior furniture, and varying options are all on the table these days.
  • Instead of just a yard, people are looking for outdoor spaces that are extensions of their indoor ones. That means all the comforts and trimmings, like dining and cooking spaces and ample electrical outlets.
  • Sun shading is a high priority to keep glare off a computer screen.

Dogs, Dogs & More Dogs

Pet and dog ownership has absolutely exploded in the past two years (including in my household). And dogs, especially younger ones, like to get out and about.

Queen Anne Gambrel – Integrated Design for Indoor/Outdoor Living – Board & Vellum
Room To Run

Designating specific areas of your yard for specific purposes can help bring the space together. Even if a big yard isn't your thing, a small area of grass or turf can be the perfect place for kids or dogs to run and play.

What We’re Seeing

  • Designated dog runs. In private yards and in multifamily amenity spaces, folks want an easy and nearby place to let their dogs run out their energy.
  • Designated dog-wash stations are also becoming more popular to provide an out-of-the-way place to clean up any messes without disrupting the rest of the yard.

Kids & Homeschooling

Homeschooling was/is really hard for most of us (put me at the top of the list). And organized sports, daycare, summer camps, you name it, continue to be canceled. Those with younger children have been especially desperate for outdoor space.

Central District Edible Garden – Board & Vellum – Landscape Architecture & Site Design
Room To Grow

With little ones running around, creating an activity that centers around the outdoors can be necessary. Raised beds provide a fun way to engage your kids with your yard while also providing something you can enjoy as a family, like cut flowers or fresh produce.

What We’re Seeing

  • Ample outdoor lighting is essential when you have kids. Not only does it provide safety, but it lets your enjoyment of your outdoor spaces extend well into the evening, which means even more time for kids to burn off their energy running around.
  • The sprawling lawn is no more. Instead, folks are opting for discrete spaces with specific purposes that give each person enjoying the outdoor space a place to land.
  • Gardening is a perennial desire but, as people have spent more time at home, raised beds have become ubiquitous. If you have kids, using these spaces to plant flowers or grow food can be a great way to get your kids outside and engage them in the natural world.

Getting Away

Most of us have others in our household and, frankly, in the past, we didn’t spend 24/7 with them. Depending on the size of your domicile and your personal tolerance, going outside might be your best chance at some ‘me’ time. And you should do that – grabbing some downtime is even more important during this period than it has been in the past.

Within a green and lush garden stands a custom outdoor art piece – a triptych showing a tree with its branches extending to the right. The tree is a cutout and you can see through to the yard behind the art.
Room To Relax

Custom art pieces add more than visual interest to a yard. At their best, they add to the natural beauty of the space by reinforcing the mood and feeling of the outdoors. This custom piece was created to accentuate the meditative qualities of this backyard.

What We’re Seeing

  • Custom art pieces, which add beauty to an outdoor respite.
  • Folks are prioritizing year-round comfort with sunshades, protected gathering spaces, and heaters or fire pits.
  • Low maintenance plantings with all-season beauty. Needing to escape to your yard doesn’t end with the summer. Where possible, we like to select plants that add to the beauty of an outdoor space regardless of the time of year.

Even though these trends have become more apparent over the course of the pandemic, they likely aren’t going anywhere. Many people have learned the importance of excellent outdoor spaces in their daily lives. Whatever your needs, it’s always smart to consult with a landscape architect to know what’s possible in your yard.

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