Is Your Outdoor Space Ready for Spring?

By Archer & Buchanan Architecture By Archer & Buchanan Architecture | March 6, 2024 | Home & Real Estate, Sponsored Post,

It’s that time of year. We look longingly at our outdoor spaces, excited for spring to arrive. Along with anticipation, there comes a mental list of improvement projects that begins simply with, “I wish . . . “

Before diving in, contemplate the whole of your property. “Study the exterior appearance of your home and take visual cues from it to harmonize the aesthetic of your outdoor spaces with the house itself,” advises partner Michele Thackrah of Archer & Buchanan Architecture. “Also note the relationships of outdoor spaces to functions within the home and to other outdoor spaces, and their connectors. Site conditions—topography, sun exposure, views, and existing elements like hardscaping, trees, or structures—are important. And think about the availability of utilities and ease of providing connections.”

What’s on our clients’ wish lists?


Screenshot_2024-02-20_at_9_31_47_AM.pngAt Towerfield, gardens line the path from terrace to pool. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro

Consideration of function (foundation, border, island, ornamental v. edible, etc.), sun exposure, soil conditions, and relationship to the home and other outdoor spaces is critical to a well-conceived design plan. Gardens should be enjoyed from within the house as well as from other outdoor locations. A creative outlet for adults, a garden also can serve as a learning experience for younger residents.


Image2.jpgA fountain in the center of an arrival drive welcomes guests and provides a cool diversion for the younger family members of Merion Residence. Photography: Scot Gordon

Ponds and fountains—which can incorporate water plants, fish, and night lighting—introduce an element of tranquility and beauty with their soothing combination of sight and sound. With careful placement water features, like gardens, can be enjoyed from within the house and other parts of the property.


There is a multitude of great outdoor kitchen products that can be incorporated into a design including grills, refrigerators, sinks, pizza ovens, and smokers. Consider the outdoor kitchen’s placement relative to an outdoor dining area and how it will be accessed from the home or other outdoor areas. Also consider access to electricity, gas or water.


Image3.jpgA series of outdoor spaces including pool, covered terrace and open terrace provides plentiful sitting, gathering and dining spaces at Saucon Valley Homestead. Photography: Halkin|Mason Photography

Consider if spaces should be open air, covered, screened, or a combination. Also, how many people must be accommodated regularly and when entertaining, and with what furnishings. Relationships to other outdoors spaces and the home, physical connectivity accessibility, desired views and privacy are important design drivers. Features may include a fireplace or firepit, specialty lighting, heaters, and fans.


Screenshot_2024-02-20_at_9_34_39_AM.pngThe beautiful pool and terrace at Havenwood is supported by a full kitchen, sitting area and bath just inside the lower level of the home. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro

Pools should be sited and designed in a shape and size that addresses function as well as its relationship to the landscape, other outdoor spaces, and the home. Spas can be integrated or separate. Pool houses can range from small storage structures to elaborate designs housing bathrooms, changing spaces, kitchens, and sitting and dining areas.


Sports courts can provide endless hours of activity and exercise for the entire family. Generally sited away from the home, sports courts can include adjacent structures such as viewing pavilions or storage. Note that you’ll need a level site and specialized design, installation, and maintenance.


Screenshot_2024-02-20_at_9_35_36_AM.pngCor-ten Cattails does double duty as a sculpture and deer fence. Photography: Tom Crane

Pergolas, gazebos, trellises, arbors, greenhouses, follies, and fencing are other structures that can be incorporated. While some function independently and are destinations, others are more likely to be an element within a larger plan.

Photography by: