This spring, one landscaping project growing in popularity is creating an outdoor living space.

“Creating a useful and long-lasting outdoor space is something which takes planning and effort,” said Hayden McLaughlin of Belknap Landscape. “If you want to be successful you really need to take your time and follow a good process.” This process includes seven steps to ensure you’re on the right path to getting a landscape you’ll love.

1. Make a wish list

Having a wish list is the best way to begin this process, as it helps you identify wants and prioritize as needed. It will help you realize what is truly important to you, and what a good outcome looks like. Not all outdoor projects will accomplish the same task, and as a result, not all projects are relevant to what you want. Your wish list will help you focus early, and aid you in this process. Some common wish list items are:

  • I want an outdoor entertaining space
  • I want to have a space I can use for the majority of the year
  • I want natural stone
  • A place to set up outdoor furniture is important to me

2. Get inspired

There are many landscape features that will help you enjoy the outdoors and spend time with those you love. We’ve found that in many cases, inspiration comes from looking at options, seeing what others have done, and imagining what may work best for you. One place to start is to view some options online. Don’t forget your wish list as you view these photos! 

3. Set a budget

It goes without saying that your budget will have a large influence on your options for outdoor living. Setting your budget will save you time regardless of if you do it yourself, or hire a professional. Your budget will help guide the scale, materials, and construction processes of your project and will dictate how the project moves forward. Time spent on reworking a plan because of a budget discrepancy is time not spent enjoying your finished outdoor space, and in many cases that can be significant.

4. Choose a partner

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, a quality materials supplier can go a long way toward helping you with choosing materials, styles, and even give you pointers along the way. We suggest shopping local and utilizing suppliers that specialize in landscape materials such as Gilbert Block, or Dirt Doctors. Similarly, quality equipment rental companies such as Ready Equipment in Meredith, or Taylor Rental in Belmont can help you obtain the right equipment to complete your job.

If you’re hiring a professional, it’s important to understand that high-quality service providers are in high demand. You’ll want to reserve your space early in their calendar to get your project done. You also want to vet them thoroughly to assure they are qualified, experienced, and insured. This is the best way to assure your investment in your outdoor living space will provide the best results.

5. Be patient

Landscaping construction can be deceivingly complex. It’s important to understand that processes like design, permitting, and preparation take time to do correctly. It's also important to remember to contact Dig Safe at 811 before breaking ground on any project.

These processes take place before you’ll begin to see your outdoor space take shape, and if they are done poorly it will result in a poor outcome and costly repairs or updates.

Similarly, construction takes time. Technicians may hand-build features, and as crafts people are dedicated to doing the job right. They take the time needed to meet high standards, and will not rush through a job. If you do it yourself, we encourage you to hold yourself to the same standard. Extra hours spent in proper planning, preparation, and construction provide extra years of enjoyment in the future.

6. Give yourself time

Once your landscape is completed, you may choose to hire a professional to care for your property. This choice will provide you with more time to enjoy your outdoor space, as you spend less time maintaining it. It will also help protect your investment for longer enjoyment over time.

A professional landscape maintenance company will have well trained, formally educated, experienced technicians. These technicians understand how to properly care for your investment and in many cases can ensure the viability of plants, identify problems before they grow into hazards, and suggest courses of action to assure you get the most of your outdoor space.

7. Enjoy yourself

Spending time outside with loved ones, building relationships is the best reason to upgrade your outdoor spaces. When you finally have the outdoor space you want, enjoy it and share the experience with others.


Your local home builders association is your best resource to find a member, hire a local professional or join the National Association of Home Builders. To learn more about Lakes Region Builders & Remodelers Association, visit

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