The art of outdoor living

It's all about details

It's all about details

First rule of gracious outdoor living -- create an environment protected from the elements. Think retaining walls, sunken patios, strategically placed trees and shrubs as wind blocks, south or west exposure and plenty of stone to soak up heat and release it into the space at night.

Second rule -- add atmosphere with water features, fire pits and containers brimming with beautiful flowers. An outdoor kitchen is a plus, but a simple BBQ works.

Third rule -- Be strategic and plan your outdoor living area near access to the indoors, especially the kitchen. It doesn't hurt to have easy access to the rest of the garden.

Fourth rule -- Furnish the space as if you were inside. This means comfy couches and chairs, pillows, tables, throw rugs made for the outdoors, candles, lanterns and other accessories.

Fifth rule -- Sit back and enjoy.

A comfy wooden deck, outfitted with bistro table and chairs and potted hibiscus and roses, makes an inviting spot for lounging and enjoying the outdoors.