COVID-19 Gardening Landscape design Planning and Design Urban Gardening

How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living (and Work) Room

The pandemic thrust us into a new reality and the backyard has a starring role. With a year of limitations on where we go, how we gather and whom we connect with, yards and other managed landscapes became a safe haven. 

Backyarding became a way of life as lawns, gardens, patios and decks evolved into outdoor offices, classrooms, family gathering places and the new “hot spots” in our neighborhoods. So how is the backyard set up to meet all of these needs?

Create activity zones. Consider what needs to happen in the backyard and map activity areas. A shady table can double as a home office, study zone, art table or dining spot. A hammock or outdoor sofa can suffice for napping, reading or studying. A patch of sturdy grass is perfect for sports, family games and play. A fire pit offers cozy chairs for star gazing and socializing, while a grill near a seating area promises delicious meals. A wall, fence or pergola may hold an outdoor movie screen for nighttime viewing. An herb or vegetable garden helps kids learn about science and nutrition while reaping the satisfaction of growing food for the table. 

Shady deck with containers.
A shady spot minimizes glare for online video meetings. Photo: Piotr Siedlecki,

Factor functionality with purpose. Is there a quiet spot for conference calls? Or a shady spot that minimizes glare for online video meetings? Note where electrical outlets are and if an outdoor-rated extension cord will be needed to accommodate all of the electronics that may be used outside. Check wifi coverage and cell service in the yard and determine if there is enough comfortable seating.

Spruce up existing landscaping. Assess the backyard and do some basic “clean up.” Fix bare patches in the grass. Use a leaf blower to clean out flower beds. Prune bushes and trees. Cut the grass to a healthy height. Add a fresh layer of mulch around your trees and in flower beds. Freshen up by weeding, planting flower beds and filling pots with colorful flowers and verdant plants.

Use plants and shrubs to hide unsightly items and control noise. Trees, shrubs and bushes offer cover from neighbors, deliver shade, camouflage unsightly pool equipment and air handlers and tamp down noise. Planters with flowers between seating and eating areas on a patio add visual interest and privacy. Shrubs and tall plants are a terrific privacy-creator (and noise canceller for those conference calls).

Boy planting in vegetable garden.
Choose plants according to your growing conditions. Photo: Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta, USCDCP,

Put the right plant in the right place. Choosing the right plants for the climate zone and for your lifestyle will create a backyarding space that is attractive. It will also be easier to maintain and support pollinators and wildlife. Consider watering and sunlight or shade needs for any plants added. A hardy grass variety is more likely to hold up to pets and kids. Save delicate flowering plants for patio containers and be sure to check out the ASPCA list of toxic plants to keep pets safe.

Invite the outdoors in. Blending interior and outdoor living spaces helps the backyard feel like an extension of the home. Open blinds and curtains to the yard. Use complementary indoor and outdoor décor in similar colors, materials and styles to create a cohesive space. This enables everyone to transition seamlessly from indoor life to outdoor living. 

Article brought to you by the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

2 comments on “How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living (and Work) Room

  1. I also work remotely and found it much better then going to an office, you can easily have more time to play some real money casinos such as it’s good to relax and unwind after a long at my work office.

  2. Frye Beckmann

    Thanks for the article, I think it’s very important what surrounds you at work and at rest. I have been working remotely in my country house since early 2020 and I have furnished my space in much the same way as you describe in the article. In addition to being more productive at work, I am also more relaxed. When I relax I play the slot machines which I find here and since I play for real money I need maximum concentration and the environment helps me a lot.

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