Our clients are always surprised when we tell them how early they should place orders if they want something in time for the holidays. Home furnishings for example… Place orders no later than September 1st for arrival by Thanksgiving and September 30th for arrival by Christmas.
So—with this in mind—it should come at no surprise that November is the time to start planning for any outdoor living projects you hope to have completed for spring/summer of the following year. However, it seems to be the norm for people to wait until the first inkling of spring before taking any action. Depending on the scope of the project, it’s unlikely that will allow enough time to have everything finished and usable by May.
To offer some perspective into the process, below is a timeline to break down what should be considered and followed if you would like to achieve your project goals by the start of acclimate weather, which most consider to be Memorial Day weekend if you live in the Midwest.
Timeline for Larger Outdoor Living Projects (Including outdoor cooking/kitchens, water features, major landscaping, patios, and decks)
1) OCTOBER/NOVEMBER: Interview and select your team
Landscape Architect – Keep in mind, if you are building new patios and/or decks, you should consult a landscape architect first, and possibly contractors if the landscaper doesn’t have their own team. They will design and plan the foundation—the “hardscape” of the project.
Interior Designer – We will design and select the furnishings and other materials—the “soft-scape” of the new space. This will include (but is not limited to) outdoor seating, dining, area rugs, drapery/dividers, lighting, decorative surfaces for counter tops, and other functional and aesthetic details.
*NOTE: For projects using existing patios or decks (hardscapes), or if you are simply adding features such as an outdoor kitchen, fire place, fire pit and/or seating areas, you can forego the landscape architect and work solely with your interior designer and their team.
2) NOVEMBER: First round of conceptual plans
Once you have selected an appropriate team, your landscape architect will create a conceptual plan of any new-build areas based on your input, needs, and their insight and expertise. It can be helpful to include your interior (or exterior in this case) designer in this planning stage to avoid possible future revisions and to help with material choices.
3) DECEMBER: Plan reviews, revisions and permitting
After reviewing the preliminary plan with your team, any determined revisions will be made and you will sign off on a final plan. The plans will then be submitted for proper permitting (if necessary) which can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a month depending on backlog and your community.
4) JANUARY/FEBRUARY: Furnishing selections and designer meetings
Your master plan is now established and your designer will commence the furnishing selection process. At this point, your designer has already defined what the furnishing and seating needs are, and now it’s time to start making the actual selections. Ideally, the presentation of these ideas and selections should take no more than one or two meetings. A second meeting only to perhaps revise/tweak anything you don’t love. The goal should be to have all furnishings ordered no later than the end of February, earlier for some manufactures. This will ensure your items will arrive, be delivered and installed sometime in May allowing you a couple weeks to accessorize and complete the details.
5) MARCH/APRIL: Sit back and relax
Reap the benefits of early planning! Take a vacation—knowing your team has everything under control. In more than 35 years of experience, we cannot tell you how many people come to us at the eleventh hour wanting their outdoor spaces ready for a specific event allowing only weeks to accomplish what normally takes months. This puts undue stress on all of us and you will likely have to “settle” in order to get anything in place by the event.
Meanwhile, your landscapers and contractors are busy digging, building and creating the hardscape and backdrop for your new outdoor living space. Two months should provide adequate time for them to have everything in place and completed by the first part of May before your furnishings arrive. This still allows them time and opportunity to tweak any last-minute details.
6) MAY: Installation of furnishings
We like to shoot for a mid May installation. That way if there are any areas that need additional attention—such as potted plants, candles, lanterns, throws, sculptures, etc.—we still have time to find those things and get them in place by our goal date without running around in panic mode at the last minute.
7) JUNE: Enjoy!
Forever cherish your time and gatherings in your new outdoor living area!