Outdoor Living By Design

Warmer weather is on the way, which means more opportunities to spend time outside. For this article, we asked local landscape and home design experts to share helpful advice for creating inviting outdoor living spaces. From state-of-the-art outdoor kitchens and pools to the best plants, natural stone and furnishings for a chic patio, deck or terrace, these inspirational ideas will leave you dreaming of sunny days and balmy summer nights.

— Maria Allen

Be Bold With Outdoor Furniture

“Poly furniture’s style and durability makes it an excellent choice for coastal living. Instead of choosing a neutral white or black finish, try a bold color instead. Available in 50 different color combinations, including five wood grain colors and over 100 Sunbrella fabrics, you will have no problem creating a unique look. Most importantly, the furniture is designed to withstand harsh outdoor elements, including coastal storms, blizzards, high winds and blazing sun.”

Michael & Karli Dokurno – Owners Chapin Sheds

560 Bedford St., Whitman 781-447-4700 chapinsheds.com


Stone Permeability is Important

“Water management is a hot topic these days. In the past, stone pavers would create runoff. Now there are products like Epoxy Sand, which hardens like cement but allows water to be absorbed back into the land instead of ending up in street drainpipes.”

Derek Stearns Manager of Marketing & Sales Plymouth Quarries, LLC

410 Whiting St., Hingham 781-335-3686 plymouthquarries.com

Choose The Right Materials

“Selecting materials can be tricky. We typically recommend natural stone to our clients because of its elegance and timeless look and style. With that said, we’re seeing lots of great looking manufactured architectural products coming into the market over the past 5-10 years. These products not only look good, they perform well and are usually at a lower price point than natural stone which can help with an overall project budget.”

Bryce White Designer | Project Manager Seoane Landscape Design

551 Bedford St., Abington 781-878-1306 seoanelandscape.com


Plants Can Serve a Purpose

“Carefully placed plants can block things you don’t want to see. Plant bushes to hide an AC unit, the kids trampoline, a basketball hoop, or the neighbors backyard collection of boats and cars.  Plants can also frame a beautiful view and provide privacy.“ 

Chris Kennedy, Owner Kennedy’s Country Gardens

85 Chief Justice Cushing Hwy, Rt 3A Scituate, 781-545-1266 kennedyscountrygardens.com


Proper Lighting Improves Safety

“Landscape lighting keeps your manicured property looking beautiful long after the sun has gone down. Investing in landscape lighting not only beautifies, but also increases safety and security of your home. When set up properly, lighting will turn on and off automatically, giving your home a lived-in look even when nobody is home. Lighting can also be used to illuminate dark steps and walkways, driveway edges and otherwise dangerous areas of your property.” 

Mike Pungitore, Pungitore Landscaping

19 Volusia Road, Hingham 781-749-0308 pungitorelandscaping.com

Use Apps To Customize Your Experience

“New technologies allow you to create a sense of calm and relaxation with the push of a button. Using a smartphone app, you can adjust water features and change lights and colors remotely. Fire pits and landscape lighting can also be managed from your phone and the warmth and brightness of the lights are all adjustable. The look of your yard can change for every holiday and/or every season and you can schedule your landscape features to come on just as you get home at the end of the day.” 

Chip Gill Landscape Designer, Ground Effects

68 Main St., Carver 781-834-1118 gfxltd.com


Keep Things Convenient

“We advise keeping the pool close to home for a few different reasons. Many people feel more comfortable when their pool is clearly visible from the windows of the house and if you’re entertaining, this makes it easier to bring food and drinks outdoors. It also improves access to the bathroom.” 

Allison Caramello Vice President, Swim Sports Inc

520 Washington St., Pembroke 781-826-8638 swimsportsinc.com

Consider sun and shade

“Spring is the time of year when flowers transform from bud to blossom. Forsythia, lilac shrubs, crabapple and redbuds are all favorites for adding color to your landscape. It is a great time to refresh your perennial beds. When choosing shrubs or flowering plants, be sure to consider their growing needs. Locate sun-loving plants in areas with full sun and plants that prefer shade in areas without direct sun.”

Bob Miller, Owner, The Gardeners’ Choice

408 Washington St, Pembroke 781-826-4010 thegardenerschoice.net


Light Your Seating Areas

“Don’t forget to light an outdoor sitting area just like your indoor spaces. Recessed lights in a porch ceiling will silhouette columns for a great look at night. Wall sconces, hanging fixtures and movable lantern lights create a wonderful ambiance. For safety, add flush-mount lights into your deck or stone terrace as well as the risers on your outdoor stairs. Exterior wall sconces near the grill really illuminate your outdoor cooking area.”

Heidi Condon H C Design, Inc Principal

146 Front St., Scituate 781-545-5700 heidicondon.com

Chefs Love a Wood-Fired Oven

“A wood-fired oven imparts a unique, rich smoky flavor to your cuisine. Even if you don’t consider yourself a skilled at-home chef, you can enjoy cooking a family favorite over an open flame. Almost anything can be cooked in your wood-fired oven, including bread, stews, chicken, roasts, steak, vegetables and more.” 

Peter Fiore, Owner, Back Yard Living

340 Brockton Ave. Route 123, Abington 781-871-2220 mybackyardliving.com


Design and Layout Matter

“Our skilled designers schedule a site visit with the client to discuss the project and start visually conceptualizing the area by locating “floors” (patios, lawns, elevations), “walls” (plantings, fences, masonry walls) and “elements” (pool, fireplace, outdoor kitchen). At this stage our designer sketches and takes notes to help gain a better understanding of the spatial relationships between the three main pieces and how they will relate to one another. Once they have a good grasp of the spatial relationships they can move onto drafting a conceptual plan.”

Bryce White Designer | Project Manager, Seoane Landscape Design

551 Bedford St., Abington 781-878-1306 seoanelandscape.com

Consider Pool Color

“I tell clients to pick the overall color of the pool first, then we can match the steps and custom seating, and choose the perimeter coping and decorative handrails. Natural grays, tans and pebble looks have gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, but many homeowners like the refreshing look of a bright blue pool. After shape and size this is next part of the process we tackle. Everything else seems easy to decide after that.”

Allison Caramello Vice President, Swim Sports Inc

520 Washington St., Pembroke 781-826-8638 swimsportsinc.com


Substitute Stone Mulch

“Stone mulch is one of the most popular natural stone landscape products. The stones range in size from ¼-inch thick to 5-inch thick and comes in a wide range of colors. Stone mulch can be used in place of woodchips. Using different sizes of beach pebbles can also give the landscape a more modern appearance.”

Derek Stearns Manager of Marketing & Sales, Plymouth Quarries, LLC

410 Whiting St., Hingham 781-335-3686 plymouthquarries.com

Grilling Is Just the Beginning

“Outdoor kitchens are extensions of the main home. While a built-in grill is common, there is so many other things available. Refrigerator drawers and ice makers save repeat trips inside. Warming drawers and burner units expand your entertaining capacity and fully functional sinks and dishwashers handle cleanup with ease. Outdoor cabinetry products offer weatherproof construction with the same look and storage capabilities of traditional wood cabinetry.”

Glenn Meader, Owner, Good Life New England

327 Washington St., Norwell 781-545-1500 goodlifenewengland.com


Pool Cabana Chic

“Outdoor kitchens and pool cabanas are all the rage. Small black or bronze track lights can be installed on top of pergola beams and angled down onto the table and counter. If you are planning an outdoor cooking area, consider installing an undermount sink in the counter to hold ice for wine and beer. There’s no need to plumb the sink. just have it ready for parties so guests can grab their own chilled beverage.”

Heidi Condon H C Design, Inc Principal

146 Front St., Scituate 781-545-5700 heidicondon.com

Fire Features are Hot

“Fireplaces, fire pits, and fire bowls are an up-and-coming trend. A wood fire pit or fireplace is an inexpensive fixture that can easily be added to a landscape. These features give the homeowners additional hours to enjoy their backyard and it allows clients to enjoy the outdoors into the fall months. Some clients choose to invest the money to run gas or propane lines to their fire fixtures, so they don’t need to keep firewood onsite. But many people just love the smell of a real wood fire.”

George Egan President of Egan Landscape Group, Inc.

100 Hedges Pond Road, Plymouth 508-224-9300 eganlandscapegroup.com

Make Shade Part of Your Plan

“When planning outdoor living spaces don’t forget to incorporate shade. Take a look at your exposure and plan for midday sun in summer months. Solutions include pavilions with a roof, gazebos, a pergola with a sliding Sunbrella shade or a wide selection of cantilever umbrellas that extend up to 13 feet in diameter.”

Joel Jordan, Owner, The Casual King

528 Washington St. Route 53, Hanover 781-826-6447 thecasualking.com

Backyard Living

Quality Design Adds Value

“Properly designed and installed landscape amenities have an extremely high ROI (return on investment) of up to 145 percent. Work with a landscape architect who knows up-to-date construction techniques and who has the vision to create beautiful outdoor spaces.”

Steven R. Tomasi, RLA, A.J. Tomasi Nurseries, Inc.

299 Oak St., Pembroke 781-826-7200 ajtomasi.com

Don’t Block The View

“Deck railings seem to disappear if the view is not obscured. A clear glass railing can provide a framed view of the water and boats. Cable rail is nautical and the clean lines don’t compete with the view.”

Heidi Condon, H C Design, Inc Principal

146 Front St., Scituate 781-545-5700 heidicondon.com


Customize Your Outdoor Kitchen

“Having to constantly run from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor patio when you’re entertaining guests is annoying and inefficient. You can only imagine the convenience of having an outdoor kitchen design and layout that incorporates prep space, cooking, grilling, even bartending equipment. When it comes to outdoor kitchens, there is no “one-size-fits all” solution. There are dozens of cabinet styles and configurations in hundreds of sizes that accommodate a variety of cooking needs. There are several choices of powder coat colors for stainless steel that provide incredible durability and a virtually maintenance-free finish.”

Cathy Follett, CEO, Renovisions Kitchen & Bath Showroom

150 Broadway, Hanover 781-826-0559 renovisionsinc.com