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Outdoor Living Is On The Rise

Get Outside All Year Round

Extending our living spaces to include our outdoor spaces is changing the landscape, literally. To help us explore the implications of this phenomenon, we invited Rosie on the House Certified Partner, Mark Wentland of CYC Landscaping, to provide us with some insights. 

Do you remember when outdoor built-in BBQs began gaining traction? Now, having one is expected in most homes. Mark tells us that outdoor living spaces are moving in the same direction. 

Several common items are involved with setting the right stage in our yards to accommodate that new living space. 

Shade Structures

Mark’s landscaping company has seen a considerable uptick in demand for shade structures. By covering the living space, you gain several advantages.

In Arizona shading your most popular seating area is vital
In Arizona, shading your most popular seating area is vital
  • Protection from weather events.
  • Lighting for nighttime use, which we will talk about in a moment. Even in the desert climate of our state, evenings spent outdoors can be quite pleasant well into summertime.
  • Misting systems can be added to the structure, thus, furthering the ability to use that space earlier in the day. 
  • Create a sense of place with options to embellish that space with a fireplace, gardens, and other plantings.

How the Right Plants Help

Choosing the right plants for landscaping is crucial, and this applies to your backyard living space. Many of us often have a clearer idea of what we don’t want rather than what we actually want. Mark says the process of choosing the right plant starts with you. This includes considering your vision for the space, how you intend to use it, and whether it is attached to the house or free-standing. There are numerous other factors to consider, but you get the idea. Some other considerations include:

  • Is your goal to have a lush landscape, or do you prefer a xeriscape solution?
  • Do you want to block a view?
  • Are you looking to enhance the view in the yard?
  • How much sun exposure do you want?
  • The time of year plants will bloom. For winter residents, a midsummer blossom probably holds little appeal.
  • Do you want a fragrant atmosphere?
  • Are there allergies to consider?
  • The amount of plant litter makes a difference. You don’t want leaves to drop in your pool or pond. 
  • How much water usage and landscape maintenance do you expect?

Looking at how a plant looks when it reaches maturity is important. Mark tells us an up-to-date visual plant library is a valuable tool to help you make decisions. 

Patio Surfaces

A beautiful Malibu shelf is a great place to relax the night away

The material options used under the shade structure, living area, and pathways leading to it have increased over the past few years.  Concrete finishes, pool deck finishes, paver designs, and tiles, such as travertine or marble, all play a role in the ambiance your outdoor living room will have. Here are some basic considerations:

  • Concrete pavers are no longer brick-sized with one color. Today’s pavers come in many sizes and shapes that can be intermixed to create a stunning base for your living area.
  • Natural stone pavers, typically travertine, limestone or marble, with several pattern choices, creates an upscale look to your outdoor floor. 
  • Mark tells us Flagstone is making a comeback. This natural product, unless cut into specific shapes, is labor intensive and needs someone skilled with the product to install it properly. 

You might also consider outdoor carpeting or area rugs to enhance your space. These may afford a splash of color. 

Yard Surfaces

The ground surrounding your outdoor living room will need attention as well. Mark talks about three basics:

  • Colored gravel, rip rap and decorative rocks are common materials to finish a yard. These can be intermixed, with large boulders included as special features. 
  • In the desert, grass is a water-consuming feature and is becoming less popular. Aside from the water use, grass requires a lot of maintenance. 
  • If you like the look of a green lawn, synthetic turf might be the answer. Mark tells us this product has come a long way from the stiff, sharp blades of turf you might remember. Modern synthetic turf blades are much softer, vary slightly in height, and include various shades of green. 


 We mentioned lighting earlier as a significant feature of the outdoor space. As summer settles and takes its hold across the state, we tend to use our outdoor spaces during evening hours. Lighting solutions take on many different options that are as varied as individual rooms are different. Depending on the configuration of your particular space, some basic options should be considered.

Different heights and lighting features can add dimension to a yard
  • Direct lighting is a light fixture and light source (the bulb) that are featured prominently. Direct lighting can be used as the overall illumination of the space and to highlight a special feature. 
  • Indirect lighting may not be seen. The indirect light is often used along footpaths or as uplighting on a ceiling to provide a soft level of overall illumination. 
  • Safety lighting.  Built in steps and along walkways

We asked Mark for his take on the current lay of the land for a landscaping business. As with most things over the last few years, supply lines and pricing have been anything but stable. Mark assures us these issues have settled down for him within the last year.

We think that is welcome news! So, get started designing your backyard “living room” this summer!



<strong>(480) 539-2597</strong>
(480) 539-2597

Since 2001 CYC Landscaping has been servicing the Phoenix area. A small family-owned and operated business they are a full-service landscape company, specializing in custom landscapes and remodels. They are active members of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), ACLA (Arizona Landscape Contractors Association), and ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute). They have a Master Gardener and Certified Arborist on staff. CYC Landscaping is licensed, bonded, and insured.


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