3 Things Your Outdoor Living Space May Be Lacking


Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is officially behind us. As the days grow shorter, the nights longer, and the memories of Memorial Day dearer, you may find yourself reflecting on those poolside parties and elegant outdoor dinner engagements that filled the last three months with wonder. And, then, wonder – were there any aspects of your outdoor living space that you found yourself longing to improve?

Perhaps the seating wasn’t quite adequate, or the bugs were a bit too aggressive.

But hindsight is 20-20, they say, and there’s no sense belaboring what could have been. Luckily, a year of good intentions looms before you, and with the expert help of a quality landscape designer, you could have the back yard of your dreams by next spring.

While you brainstorm, here are three elements your outdoor living space may be lacking:

PatiosThe cornerstone – no pun intended – of all exterior recreation, patios are a highly adaptable means of expanding your outdoor empire. Whether flagstone or Travertine, patios can be designed to a client’s wildest specifications, while incorporating cues from your home’s architecture and your landscape’s natural environment.  Whether kicking back with a book or kicking up your heels with a DJ, a home patio is the perfect place to start.

Screened porches – Sometimes, even during the most serene get-togethers, retreat becomes necessary. From escaping unrelenting insects to seeking sanctuary from the sun’s rays, a screened porch is a versatile hideaway that extends your living space at the same time. Here you can entertain guests, engage in a fierce game of Go Fish with the kids, or enjoy a leisurely meal in the fresh air as you watch the sun rise or set. Or if you simply need to get away from it all, a screened porch provides the perfect respite.

Outdoor kitchenWhy leave all of the excitement for a bite to eat, when you can cook something up outside? The addition of an outdoor kitchen can keep you home free from excess heat and smoke, thereby reducing your utility bills.  And when you consider the extra accouterments – from refrigerators to glistening sinks and faucets, and even wall-mounted televisions – you might never want to leave!

Don’t despair that the summer months are behind us. Instead, look forward to the fall with any number of enhancements right now. An expertly crafted fireplace or fire pit, incidentally, can provide a perfect means of warming up on a brisk autumn night while you make plans for all of those glorious new additions to your outdoor living space next year.

flagstone patios

Travertine or Flagstone Patios? Your Backyard Wins Either Way


Summer has arrived, and your backyard is calling.

Patios are a low-maintenance means of expanding your home’s living space, and with the help of a professional landscape designer, can be built to any specification, shape, or size.

Perhaps the biggest decision encountered when installing a patio is what type of stone you will choose.

At McHale Landscape Design, our masons can create breathtaking structures from either flagstone or travertine. Both stones are renowned for their distinctive appearance and overall sturdiness.

Exceptional in many ways, deciding between the two styles often comes down to personal preference.

Flagstone is an all-encompassing term for sedimentary rock that is formed from layers of sand, clay, and minerals, which result in the stone’s unique colors and characteristics.

Durable and dynamic, flagstone patios have become a favorite among homeowners and landscapers, alike, thanks to their striking appearance and overall versatility. They are also easy to care for, though different kinds of flagstone require different levels of maintenance.

Flagstone is widely viewed as one of the best materials for patio construction, due to its narrow joints that eliminate storm water runoff, and a naturally slip-resistant surface.

But perhaps its main draw is its versatility. Unmistakably beautiful, with distinct lines and edges, it can be laid out in a repeating pattern for a distinguished and formal look, or irregularly-shaped stones can be assembled in a more random fashion for an informal beauty.

Additional benefits include:

• Rich, variable colors
• Permeable surface
• Space for grass and moss to grow between stones

More and more, however, homeowners have increasingly been incorporating travertine stones into their patio design.

Considered a type of marble, travertine is a soft stone that hails from locations as distant as Italy, Turkey, and Peru, and as close to home as Yellowstone National Park.

It is admired for a unique look forged through complex processes, and is cut from pure, natural stone.

Travertine comes in a number of shapes, sizes, and earthy tones. It is resistant to discoloration and easy to clean. Among its myriad benefits, it is also:

  • Durable
  • Slip resistant
  • Cool to the touch

McHale Landscape Design’s in-house masons can install travertine or flagstone patios that incorporate the surrounding elements of your outdoor design. Contact us today for more information.

3 Ways to Optimize Backyard Patio Designs for Entertainment


Spring is here. The sky is blue. And before long, garden soirees, pool parties, and backyard barbeques will be consuming weekends and late summer nights, as warm weather revelers take to their lawns for some fun in the sun.

For many homeowners and party hosts, the patio often becomes the de facto base of operations for backyard festivities, serving up food, drink, and socialization to guests when they’re not spiking volleyballs or splashing in the pool.

If your patio has become a go-to for get-togethers, be sure to make the most out of what the space offers. Backyard patio designs can be optimized for entertainment in a number of ways, and a professional landscape designer can help make your most cinematic dreams a reality.

Shed some light on the subject

Create a memorable atmosphere with dramatic lighting. From globe or string patio lights that create a subdued, ethereal environment, to solar lamps and walkway lighting, illumination is an integral component for any backyard bistro or weekend getaway. Consider low-voltage options, or add a dimmer to control high voltage lamps to strike the proper mood.

Heat things up

Nothing captures the imagination quite like glowing embers, a thin wisp of smoke stretching to the sky, and the deep smell of snapping and popping firewood on a cool autumn evening or a dwindling summer night while surrounded by kindred spirits. A fire pit has an uncanny way of drawing friends and family together for warmth and fellowship, while providing the means to a quick snack in the form of roasted marshmallows or hot dogs. Or consider a stainless steel grill – or, even better, an outdoor kitchen – for your patio area. Sure, boxed fried chicken and plastic tubs of potato salad work in a pinch, but imagine your guests’ delight when you don a chef’s hat and grill marinated kabobs to order.

Roll out the red carpet

Transform your back lawn into a virtual cinema. Outdoor, high-definition televisions are an ideal option for backyard patio designs. Built to withstand the elements with water-resistant coating and temperature controlling fans, outdoor televisions are also equipped with tinted screens and offer a brighter image to counteract the sun’s glare. If your budget does not allow for an outdoor unit, indoor televisions can also be adapted for patio use with a proper mount and cover. Placement is essential to ensure longevity, and a full-service landscape designer can help you shield your investment from the wind and rain so you can simply sit back and enjoy the show.



When optimizing backyard patio designs for entertainment purposes, homeowners are limited solely by the bounds of their imagination.  And practically any setup can be made possible with the help of a qualified professional landscaper.

For more than 35 years, McHale Landscape Design has been creating award-winning landscapes throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the Eastern Shore, and our signature design-build process makes every customer a part of the team. Contact us today.

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