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Get Creative with Outdoor Spaces
Patty Vaughan | May 20, 2013
Source: Kokobo Greenscapes, one of TLC's Landscaper of the Year finalists.

Source: Kokobo Greenscapes, one of TLC’s Landscaper of the Year finalists.

Europeans have got the hang of things when it comes to outdoor living.

Outdoor dining in countries like France, England, Germany, Italy, Greece and Switzerland is very common, and each country captivates their own culture in the setting.

Landscapers can learn a thing or two from the cultures and styles incorporated into the outdoor-living settings across the world.

have come up with a few ways the outdoor experience can be captivated in the United States.  

Decide the Experience
Will the outdoor dining experience be designed for entertainment or will it be an intimate experience meant simply for the client’s own experience? If it is a place for entertaining, remember friends will need plenty of room to sit and eat.

Outdoor Design
There are a few things to consider when choosing table seating. You can choose a table large enough to accommodate guests, but a table that size may be a bit overwhelming. Another idea is to choose more than one table for guests. This will give guests a more intimate dining experience and can create different areas more viable for conversation, while enjoying their meal. For a personal dining experience, a small, intimate table is a suitable choice.

Best-selling dining sets are made of wood, metal or wicker. The natural look of wood fits in well with outdoor space, which is usually very rich in landscaping and vegetation. There are a few options when choosing a metal dining set.

Wrought iron has become popular and can be very elegant. It is heavy and would be more appropriate in harsh, windy climates. Another metal that is popular is aluminum. Aluminum dining sets may be much lighter weight and are usually price-friendly. The key when choosing a metal dining set would be the chair cushion.

A metal dining set can be beautiful and durable but may not be comfortable without a great cushion. Wicker dining sets are quite comfortable, casual and fit nicely into a naturalistic setting. Wicker sets come in a variety of colors and styles.

Keeping Cool
One important factor not to overlook would be sun exposure. Dining umbrellas come in various shapes, sizes, colors and materials. To choose an appropriate one, first take into account how much sun the dining area receives and how much shade is needed.

Umbrellas also come with the bases offset to give more room under the umbrella itself. Most umbrellas are made of durable polyester and are mildew resistant, but extreme climates may want to make sure that the umbrella will withstand the climate. 

Another shade choice could be a retractable awning. Retractable awnings are anchored on one side and roll out to provide shade as needed. Retractable awnings may range in size from 3 feet to more than 65 feet. An additional choice is a pergola.

A pergola offers the large shade of a retractable awning with the permanency of a porch. Pergolas are available in a variety of choices. Pergolas may be made of wood, wrought iron or aluminum.

Make It Inviting
Don’t forget about lighting when putting together your landscaping. Choosing the perfect lighting can keep the wonderful outdoor dining experience going well into the evening. Choosing solar lighting can eliminate the need to run wiring and is a smart, eco-friendly choice. On the other hand, choosing electrical lighting can give you more options and is typically brighter. 

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