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Ashland - Local Town Pages

How to design the perfect outdoor living space

Chris Hopkins

It may sound strange, but some clients say “My favorite room at home isn’t inside my house.” They just love their green spaces. But creating the perfect outdoor living spot doesn’t just happen. It takes planning. And now’s the perfect time of year to be thinking about designing a spectacular outdoor space for the Spring. Here’s some things to keep in mind as you start to plan.
1) Ask questions
When you look at the green space you want to transform ask “what do I want from this space” — to entertain, relax, let kids and pets play freely, grow fruit or vegetables, or host cozy gatherings…a green space can do many things, but it helps to prioritize. What’s the primary use and what’s a “nice to have”?
2) Talk to friends, neighbors, and the pros
Ask friends or neighbors about outdoor spaces you admire. Talk about the process, how their plans evolved as they built. Don’t be afraid to ask about what they’d do differently. Remember, building an outdoor greenspace is just like renovating a space in your house —it should include planning and might require town permits.
3) Create an idea board
Outdoor living spaces come in all shapes and sizes. Before you finalize your plans, it helps to know exactly what you want — not just how the space will be used, but what style you want. Think English country garden vs modern minimalist. Do some research online and save images of green spaces you like. Social media is a great place to brainstorm and create a Pinterest board.
4) Set a budget
Finalizing your budget will keep your project on track. The last two years have seen prices go up. So, when you talk to friends or neighbors about recent projects ask them about their final cost. You’ll find the estimate and the final total may vary based on how the project evolved during the build. Remember a change in the original design or a problem uncovered means a change in price. Allow a 15% to 20% buffer (over and above your budget) just in case of hiccups. And don’t be tempted to use a lowball price as it will probably involve cutting corners or worse.
5) Work with a professional
You’ve got your vision and a rough budget, now you can talk to a professional landscape contractor.
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask before hiring:
• Have they completed a project like yours—size and budget?
• References— can you talk to previous clients or suppliers?
• Discuss contract details, including: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date. Good contracts insure no misunderstandings.
Information provided by Chris Hopkins, Greenleaf Landscaping LLC — with 30 years experience building everything from fire pits and pergolas to pools and outdoor kitchen/entertaining space Talk to Greenleaf today: 774-421-9570
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