How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living and Work Room

backyard officeThe pandemic thrust us into a new reality, and the backyard has a starring role. Yards and other managed landscapes became a safe haven.

Backyarding became a way of life as lawns, gardens, patios and decks evolved into outdoor offices, classrooms, family gathering places and the new “hot spots” in our neighborhoods.

According to a recent poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll, the outdoor office trend is here to stay, with many Americans using their yards as makeshift offices for their jobs.

The stats show that nearly 2 in 5 Americans who have a yard (58%) say they have spent time doing work for their job in their yard during the pandemic. So how can you set up our backyard to meet all of these needs?

Create Activity Zones

Consider what needs to happen in the backyard and map activity areas. A shady table can double as a home office, study zone, art table or dining spot. A hammock or outdoor sofa can suffice for napping, reading or studying. A patch of sturdy grass is perfect for sports, family games and play.

A fire pit offers cozy chairs for star gazing and socializing, while a grill near a seating area promises delicious meals. A wall, fence or pergola may hold an outdoor movie screen for nighttime viewing. An herb or vegetable garden helps kids learn about science and nutrition while reaping the satisfaction of growing food for the table.

Factor in Functionality with Purpose

Is there a quiet spot for conference calls? Or a shady spot that minimizes glare for online video meetings? Note where electrical outlets are and if an outdoor-rated extension cord will be needed to accommodate all of the electronics that may be used outside. Check Wi-Fi coverage and cell service in the yard and determine if there is enough comfortable seating.

Spruce up Existing Landscaping

Assess the backyard and do some basic cleanup. Fix bare patches in the grass. Use a leaf blower to clean out flower beds. Prune bushes and trees. Cut the grass to a healthy height.

Add a fresh layer of mulch around your trees and in flower beds. Freshen up by weeding, planting flower beds and filling pots with colorful flowers and verdant plants.

Use Plants and Shrubs to Hide Unsightly Items and Control Noise

Trees, shrubs and bushes offer cover from neighbors, deliver shade, camouflage unsightly pool equipment and air handlers, and tamp down noise. Planters with flowers between seating and eating areas on a patio add visual interest and privacy. Shrubs and tall plants are a terrific privacy-creator (and noise canceller for those conference calls).

Put the Right Plant in the Right Place

Choosing the right plants for the climate zone and for your lifestyle will create a backyarding space that is attractive. It will also be easier to maintain and support pollinators and wildlife.

Consider watering and sunlight or shade needs for any plants added. A hardy grass variety is more likely to hold up to pets and kids. Save delicate flowering plants for patio containers and be sure to check out the ASPCA list of toxic plants to keep pets safe.

Invite the Outdoors in

Blending interior and outdoor living spaces helps the backyard feel like an extension of the home. Open blinds and curtains to the yard. Use complementary indoor and outdoor décor in similar colors, materials and styles to create a cohesive space. This enables everyone to transition seamlessly from indoor life to outdoor living.

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