Outdoor Areas--off the home living

downeastwavesJuly 4, 2006

I'm hoping folks will share details and/or photos of their outdoors living spaces.

Patios, porches, decks, sun-rooms, etc. any outside space used as additional living space.

Let's have some inspiration! If its a DYI and you have the time, tells us how you did the project.

Please include your zone if it is lot listed in your header.


Eastport, Maine

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I don't have any of mine finished, but I have 3 doors at the time...and eventually will have more...that open to the outside and plan to do an area for each of them. Want one off the bathroom too. One off the back of the house, one off the front and have a door that opens from the bedroom that will access the outdoor area off of the bathroom. I love little enclosed gardens, and can grow lots of tropical plants here...plus I am a watergardener and have plans for small water features with waterlilies all over. I have a lot of mini lilies that will grow in tubs and tub gardens don't need anything in the way of aereation or water movement. In fact, the waterlilies prefer still water. I want them all over the place. ;) I live on the Texas Gulf coast. Zone 9.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 12:13PM
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Leasa, this is something I am working on. I designed a side garden which is to look very California 50's with a slight New Orleans bent. Only "New Orleans" as it is TINY, it's only 10' wide and I need a dining space AND a sitting space. The area is however long. It's between two houses and I need a raised bed (to put drainage behind it from the other house which sits slightly above us), and then I am going to actually make it a sunken garden because we get so much moisture in our crawlspace during hurricane season. That area will all be patio and gravel with a drainage system below. I plan on a fence at LEAST 6' tall with trellises that will go above that and overhead. The top will be partly covered with lath, and partly covered with tinted sheets of PVC for shade (and to keep water off of my patio furniture as much as possible). I plan for a pond and also a small waterfall to block out the street noises.
I'm planning on honing my espallier skills (or at least creating some, lol).
The back yard has a small deck, and I will be making a circular patio off of that, right at the bottom of the stairs. I'd love a chimera or firepit there. I am going to be also building raised bed gardens around the bottom of the deck and surrounding most of the patio.
Right now our only outdoor living space is the front screen porch. It's nice, but I feel like I'm waisting outdoor space by not having places in other areas of the garden!!


    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 1:06PM
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We have a 12' X 27 ft back porch. We have french doors leading out to it. We are going to screen it in and in later years perhaps make it into a sunroom or my dream hobby room. When we were having the house built we had the air conditioner vents installed out on the porch. We just have to connect them whenever we decide to make our back porch into another room of the house. Or perhaps we won't, I do love a screened in back porch. Our front porch is 10ft X 30. I don't suppose I can get that screened but I must might!!!


    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 3:29PM
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There's a new garden forum called Small Spaces/Urban gardening here at Garden Web. It needs some waking up, I think you guys would be the perfect people to do it too. You've done so well with the small homes :D

Here is a link that might be useful: small gardens

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 10:23AM
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We actually have two outdoor living spaces.

One is a covered deck in the backyard,just off the dining room, that was a 'bonus' when we bought this house three years ago. Since then the Virginia creeper has filled in and is wonderful to block the late evening sun (western exposure). By the end of the summer, I expect that the creeper will have filled in the trellis on the right side of the photo - for privacy.
Hard to see but there is actually a solid wall on one side - behind the table - this blocks the prevailing northwest winds and permits us to use this space from April to November - which is phenomenal in this Zone!

At the front of our house, we have just finished a 'courtyard' which is actually a floating deck. Great for sitting out with the morning coffee and newspaper - eastern exposure.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 9:15PM
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I love this forum. this is a fabric covered pergalo(sp). there are a lot of grape vines growing and providing shade.

By the way, those are not weeds in the patio, that's thyme and a few other plants. My DGD thought they were weeds!!

There also is a small stoop area and a screened-in porch. I didn't include the screen porch cause I forgot to take a pix of it.

We had just had a small b-b-q and everything is still all over.

I absolutely love our outside area. and everyone seems to enjoy it too.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 8:37AM
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Love the pics! Margaret, that virginia creeper looks wonderful and makes the deck area look like a secret hideaway. I just saw some vc at Lowes and was tempted to get a pot. Can it be invasive with too much water?

Shirley, love your outdoor areas, too. The stones under the pergola are wonderful and I don't think the plants look like weeds one bit. I love that look - it is so refreshing and organic.

We have a covered front porch with a swing and two rockers. DH made the swing for me for mother's day a long time ago. The porch has views of the Antelope and Victor Valleys. It's really nice to sit there and watch the summer thunderstorms light up the desert.

My sweet Emma enjoying the swing.

We built a pergola and deck onto the back of our home last year. We had a small deck off the kitchen but decided to have it span the entire length. We're glad we did. We have lots of dirt and wind up here so now there is less getting tracked into the house. These pics are from last fall. We are on the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mtns. so the view is nice out back, as well.

We now have beds in front of the deck with hollies and various perennials. And a few roses - gotta have my roses. : ) We've ordered a new 6' slider for the kitchen. It should be here soon. Ah, another project - it never ends!


Here is a link that might be useful: more deck/pergola pics

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 10:47AM
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Diana - love your front porch. What a wonderful spot to just sit and relax.
I'm not sure how Virginia Creeper would behave in your zone. It does spread here (Zone 3 or 4), but nothing that I cannot control. It is planted in a spot where there really isn't much else and I would recommend that. If other plants had to compete with it, I don't think they would do well. In fact, I had planted some phlox in the bed that is on the right side of the photo and I think both (V.C. & phlox) will be better off if I move the phlox.
Should mention that I trim it weekly during our growing season as it is constantly sending out new tendrils.
Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 12:23PM
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We have what I call the deck from hell. It was simply put on to cover a poorly placed addition, with no thought to the fact that it is blazing hot in summer and picks up all the wind - it is currently unusable. I'm hoping to come up with some ideas for covering it, but it is difficult because it is on the front of the house. There is no room to plant trees in front of it - that's where the driveway is.

Suggestions? I'm currently thinking of putting a patio behind the house, which has a much balmier climate, but I don't know what to do with this white elephant.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 9:20PM
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Uh - after looking at the picture I want to add that I have changed the outdoor light fixtures and taken down the rope xmas lights hanging on the deck :-)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 9:22PM
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Postum - would it be possible to incorporate a pergola into the design of that patio - hard to tell from the photos. Thinking something like Diana shows in her photo in this thread.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 8:35AM
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Serendipity - that is exactly what I am thinking of, but the configuration makes it difficult. As most of the beams holding on the railing are rotted, it would be a good time to put up something like that. I'm going to try to work something out with my contractor friend - I've even considered sticking a gazebo up there! I just hate the waste of space.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 9:43PM
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I love my big front porch! It's where we live all summer long and into the late Fall. We've put up shades to help block sun & wind. We eat out on the porch at least 5 evenings a week and spend DH's days off drinking our coffee out in the early morning. It's my favorite spot to just sit and read a book or look at a decorating or gardening magazine.
I'm posting a picture and I sure hope it work. It's my first attempt. This is only half of the porch with the other half housing the covered BBQ grill and a dogloo for our old husky, Keesha. When she's gone I'm going to be painting the cement and getting rid of the dogloo. DH wants to 'build' something for the grill and make it look like a piece of furniture...we'll see.
marilyn in nm

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:32AM
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Postum, I think you need to start cultivating Virginia Creeper like Margaret. But then, I live in Virginia, so I'm biased. :-) As a short-term solution, you might consider buying one of those tent-like gazebos. If you shop around, you could find one that looks nice with your house.

If your deck is sturdy enough to hold a lot of weight, you could get some potted trees for shade. Or grow elephant ears up there or something else tall with big, wide leaves.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:16PM
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