Achieving the Ultimate in Outdoor Entertainment. Ever since I can remember, it has always been engrained in school to study hard, pay attention, try your best and straight A’s will come your way. This couldn’t have proved to be truer, with one exception, the designing and implementation of an outdoor entertainment area. I now personally strive for straight F’s when developing architectural plans for these spaces. Food, Fire and Fluidity have become the main elements, when brought together, which deliver the ultimate staycation of any homeowners dreams.

FOOD. Enough said. Nothing brings people together better than an array of delectable foods to partake.The home kitchen always seems to be the main area of gathering during any holiday, birthday or party. Why? Food. There’s no reason why a kitchen with all the same amenities (and more) can’t be created outdoors. Grills, warmers, side burners, refrigerators, sinks, ice makers, pizza ovens and even beermeisters can all come together within your patio space. Most of these kitchen structures come equipped with natural gas, electric and plumbing. Granite countertops, stainless steel cabinets and drawers can also add to the gourmet cooking experience. Food has the capability to make families friendlier and turn friends into family. So put away those frozen hotdog and hamburger packets and prepare a spread worthy of a five-star restaurant.

FIRE. Since the beginning of time we have always been captivated and mesmerized by fire. A fireplace is typically the main focal point of a home’s family/living area and has the same mystical power as the kitchen: to bring people together. Roasting marshmallows by camp fire or huddling around a fireplace hearth can easily be recreated right out your back door. The trend of incorporating an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or element of fire has become increasingly popular over the past five years. Wood, natural gas or propane can all be used to fuel your inferno based upon preference. These structures are available in kits for ease of installation or can be custom designed to fit specific needs. Natural stone, clay brick or manufactured block and veneer are all used in construction. Whether it be warmth, utility or just plain beauty, fire has always proven to be a part of our lives in one form or another.

FLUIDITY. The sound of flowing water has a calming effect which can be a tranquil addition to any outdoor space. Waterfalls, fountains and ponds each have their own unique attributes in providing this soothing atmosphere. Waterfalls can be incorporated into swimming pools and ponds alike to drown out nearby vehicular traffic or that overly noisy neighbor. Ponds can bring an entire mini living ecosystem to your property with the inclusion of aquatic life and plants. Many homeowners looking for low maintenance are including pondless water features. These range from boulder/stone waterfalls to decorative bubbling urns spilling into underground collection basins with pumps to recirculate. Water has even made its way into built-in patio misters to keep your guests cool on those hot summer days.The introduction of moving water can transform an average outdoor space into a dynamic, whimsical environment.

A well-thought plan, qualified contractor and some greenbacks (of course) can blend all three of these elements together seamlessly. Winter is the perfect time to plan your spring/summer outdoor projects and get ahead of the rush. Forget the travel agent and create a personal resort oasis right in your own backyard.

Michael Pasquarello is a degreed landscape architect with Elite Landscaping. Email him at MPasquarello@EliteLandscaping.com or call (856) 753-1944. Visit EliteLandscaping.com or GoEliteGreen.com for more information.