Tips for Creating Functional and Beautiful Outdoor Areas in Ontario

Welcome homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts! Today, we're talking about crafting functional and beautiful outdoor areas that will elevate your home to a whole new level of charm and practicality.

The secret to a remarkable outdoor area lies in striking the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics. These spaces not only serve as your private sanctuaries but also act as the first impression your home makes on visitors—and buyers. By marrying practicality with visual appeal, you can create outdoor spaces that captivate hearts and leave a lasting positive impression.

Image of a large backyard garden

Designing Functional and Appealing Sheds/Detached Garages

Identifying the Purpose and Needs of the Structure

When it comes to designing your perfect shed or detached garage, the first step is to understand its purpose and your specific needs. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What will be the primary use of the structure? Storage, workspace, or a combination of both?
  • Will it house garden tools, sports equipment, a home gym, or serve as a workshop?
  • Do you plan to use it seasonally, or will you use it year-round?

By clarifying the intended purpose, you'll have a solid foundation for the design process and ensure the final structure aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and requirements.

Choosing the Right Size and Location

How do I know what size I need?

Selecting the right size for your shed or detached garage might seem daunting, but it's all about striking a balance between space and practicality. Start by taking inventory of the items you'll store or activities you'll conduct within the structure. Consider future needs too, as you wouldn't want to outgrow the space too quickly.

To get a better idea, measure the dimensions of your equipment, tools, or vehicles, and add extra room for maneuvering and potential growth. It's better to go slightly larger than you think in order to avoid space constraints down the road.

What if I choose the wrong location?

Inconvenient Access: Picking a location that is too far from your main living spaces or difficult to access can make it cumbersome to use the shed or garage regularly. You might find yourself avoiding the structure due to the inconvenience, defeating its purpose.

Lack of Sunlight: Placing the structure in a spot with limited sunlight exposure can lead to dampness and inadequate ventilation, resulting in a less pleasant environment inside. It may also affect the items stored, especially those sensitive to moisture—like expensive metal tools.

Drainage Problems: If the chosen location is prone to water pooling or flooding, your shed or detached garage could be at risk of water damage. If possible, avoid placing the shed on clay or compacted soils, as they tend to retain water and slow down drainage. And be wary of placing it under trees, as falling leaves and branches can clog gutters and contribute to water pooling around the shed.

Non-Compliance with Local Regulations: Some areas have zoning regulations or building codes that dictate where you can place structures like sheds and detached garages. These regulations can be different depending on which part of the city you live in, so it’s important to be thorough when investigating. Choosing the wrong location might lead to violations and potential fines.

If you have any doubts or concerns, consulting with our team at House of Three can provide valuable insights and ensure you make the best decision for your needs and property.

Determining the Ideal Pool Type for Your Space and Budget

Designing the perfect pool area starts with choosing the right pool type that fits your available space and budget. If you’re not entirely sure what type of pool you’re interested in, here are some popular options to consider:

In-Ground Pools: Offering a seamless and elegant look, in-ground pools are a classic choice that can be customized to various shapes and sizes. They can elevate the aesthetics of your outdoor space and provide ample room for swimming and relaxation.

Above-Ground Pools: More budget-friendly and easier to install, above-ground pools are a fantastic option for smaller yards or temporary pool solutions. They come in various shapes and sizes, making them versatile for different spaces.

Infinity Pools: For those seeking a luxurious and visually stunning pool, infinity pools create the illusion of water extending to the horizon. They are particularly appealing if you have a stunning view, as they blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

Plunge Pools: Perfect for compact spaces or urban settings, plunge pools offer a refreshing and compact swimming experience. They are great for relaxation and cooling off during hot summer days.

Selecting Safe and Attractive Pool Decking Materials

The pool deck is not just a practical space for sunbathing and lounging. It also adds to the overall aesthetics and safety of your pool area. When choosing pool decking materials, consider the following options:

Concrete: Durable and versatile, concrete is a popular choice for pool decks. It can be stamped, coloured, or textured to mimic natural stone or other materials, providing a cost-effective and attractive option. However, while concrete is versatile and widely used for pool decks, it can also be prone to cracking over time, especially in regions with significant temperature fluctuations or due to poor installation practices. Additionally, the surface of concrete can become hot under direct sunlight, potentially making it uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet during scorching summer days.

Stone: Natural stone, like travertine, is a popular choice for many applications, including pool decking. Travertine especially is prized for its durability, elegance, and ability to stay cool under the sun, making it an excellent option for poolside areas. Other materials like limestone, or flagstone, offer a timeless and elegant look but will be more expensive than wood or concrete due to the skill required to install it.

Wood: If you prefer a warm and inviting atmosphere, wood decking can add a touch of natural beauty to your pool area. However, it's crucial to choose a wood species that is resistant to water and rot, such as cedar or redwood, and it’s also crucial to conduct regular maintenance, including sealing and staining to prolong the life of the wood and keep it looking its best.

Crafting Your Dream Garden: Greenery and Beauty

Assessing Sunlight and Soil Conditions for Plant Selection

Before delving into your garden project, assess the sunlight and soil conditions in your outdoor space. Understanding these factors will help you select the right plants that thrive in your environment:

Take note of how sunlight moves across your garden throughout the day. Identify areas that receive full sun, partial shade, or full shade. This knowledge will guide you in choosing plants that match their specific light requirements.

Conduct a soil analysis to determine its pH level, drainage capabilities, and nutrient content. Different plants have varying soil preferences, so this evaluation will aid in selecting plants that will flourish in your garden's soil conditions.

Creating a Garden Layout and Pathways

A well-planned garden layout ensures your space will be organized and visually appealing. By considering the flow and functionality of your garden, and by planning pathways that lead visitors through the space, you can highlight key features and bring your garden area together. And by incorporating focal points, such as garden sculptures, seating areas, or water features, you add interest and create a garden that is uniquely yours.

Incorporating a Variety of Plants: Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees

When selecting plants, consider using native species that are well-adapted to Kingston's local ecosystem. Native plants not only thrive in the area's climate and soil conditions but also provide essential habitat and food sources for local wildlife.

For guidance on selecting native plants and creating ecologically friendly gardens, you can reach out to organizations such as the Kingston Horticultural Society which have a handy list of native species for gardens. These organizations offer valuable resources and expertise to help you make environmentally conscious choices for your garden.

Implementing Eco-Friendly Practices for Sustainability

Water Conservation: Install a rainwater harvesting system to collect rainwater for garden irrigation. This reduces reliance on municipal water supplies and provides a chemical-free water source that's better for plants. Proper placement and regular maintenance ensure effective water collection.

Composting: Create a composting system to turn kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost. This enriches soil, reduces waste, and saves money on fertilizers. To get the most out of your compost, be sure to balance green and brown materials, turn it regularly, and avoid adding inappropriate items, like meat or pet waste, for successful composting.

Mulching: Apply organic mulch around plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and nourish the soil. Choose the right mulch materials like wood chips, or straw, and avoid mulching too deep to maintain a healthy garden environment.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Embrace IPM for eco-friendly pest control. Encourage beneficial insects by planting nectar-rich flowers and minimizing chemical pesticides. IPM preserves biodiversity, creating a natural balance in your garden.

By incorporating these practices, you can create a sustainable garden that promotes the health of your plants and supports the well-being of the surrounding ecosystem.


The process of crafting functional and beautiful outdoor areas is a rewarding journey that enhances the overall appeal and livability of your home. By understanding the purpose and needs you can ensure they become valuable additions to your home. So, embrace the art of outdoor design, where practicality meets aesthetics, and transform your outdoor spaces into captivating retreats that leave a lasting impression on all who experience them.

Interested in building the outdoor area of your dreams?

Contact our expert team today and get started!