I love living in Southern California, where you can enjoy outdoor living almost all year round. Thus, I pay little attention to the official start of Spring, which began last week, and even less to that silly groundhog! However, I get that for many of my friends, family and readers in chillier climes, Spring is when y’all start to think about venturing outside again. In that spirit, I’m kicking off the season on Gold Notes with the first of three guest posts about outdoor spaces.
This first one comes from Bjorn Nordquist, senior designer at Landscape East & West in Portland, Ore. As Bjorn shares below, an outdoor kitchen is a big investment in your home and incorporates more than just your cooking and eating areas. It’s important to take in the surrounding environment, too, for the best results. These are the elements you need to take into account, and five landscape planning tips to consider from a talented expert.
Ease of access is important when it comes to any kitchen, including your outdoor version. You may want to situate it near your indoor kitchen, both for greater convenience, and for easier installation access to the home’s main utility lines. Make sure your landscaping design allows guests and the cook to navigate into and out of your home easily by locating outdoor seating and counters away from indoor-outdoor “travel lanes.”
Locating your outdoor kitchen next to the house is highly efficient for cook and guests
Think about the placement of cooking appliances, food preparation surfaces and your outdoor dining area relative to the surrounding areas of your yard or deck. Make sure your landscape design gives everyone enough space to sit and gives the cook wide enough work aisles to navigate around guests, appliances, storage, prep surfaces and landscape elements.
Your landscaping should complement your outdoor kitchen design. A professional landscape design contractor can help you choose plants that will reflect any style of outdoor kitchen, from modern to rustic. He or she can also suggest those that will work the best for your climate, sun exposure, soil conditions, privacy needs and budget.
Your hardscape, plantings and kitchen components should all complement each other
When you add an outdoor kitchen, you add another element to your landscape that you’ll have to maintain. Ease the burden by making your landscape more functional or easier to tend. For example, use slow-growing grass, so that you don’t have to mow and water as often. Plant a vegetable or herb garden near the cooking facility. Use native plants that don’t require a lot of water. Incorporate a rain garden or install rain barrels.
When you dine, you don’t necessarily want the neighbors peeking in on you. Create a more private space by using plants, hedges or trees to form a natural privacy screen. Alternatively, you can install a more permanent structure such as an outdoor privacy screen.
Plants or structures, as shown here, can provide privacy for outdoor spaces
Jamie’s Final Thoughts
Creating a safe, highly-functional and enjoyable outdoor kitchen will repay you with years of enjoyment and added value to your home. Be sure to do it right, use a qualified professional and invest with Sensible Style. Bjorn’s second guest post, coming soon, will address covering options for your outdoor kitchen.
Contributing author Bjorn Nordquist is a senior designer at Landscape East & West, an award-winning full-service landscaping company specializing in patio landscape design, outdoor kitchen design, landscaping maintenance and more in Portland, Ore.
Photos: All photos courtesy of Landscape East & West.