How to Enjoy Year-Round Backyard Entertaining in New England

March 1, 2020

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Text by Regina Andrews

year-round backyard entertaining outdoor kitchen

Landscape architect, Dan Gordon Landscape Architects. Photo, Greg Premru Photography.

Here in New England, we treasure our time outdoors. For many homeowners, inviting family and friends to gather in the backyard is one of the biggest delights of summer. Wouldn’t you love to be able to enjoy year-round backyard entertaining? Stephanie Reid of Paragon Landscape Construction in Hanover, Mass., completely understands. “People want to enjoy the outdoors and the seasons for as long as possible,” she says. “It’s easier now more than ever to bring indoor-style living to the outdoors. Despite the weather, entertaining, cooking, and relaxing, can all be enjoyed outdoors year-round.”

Here are some of the ideas that Paragon suggests to transform your outdoor patio with the seasons and enjoy year-round backyard entertaining in New England.


The Colors of Spring

year-round backyard entertaining yellow flowers

Landscape architect, Gregory Lombardi Design, Inc. Photo, Rosemary Fletcher.

For spring, Reid recommends bulbs, hardy annuals, and plants that bloom early and boast interesting foliage plants. Adding perennials in a variety of colors, textures, and forms fill in planters and supports seasonal change from spring into summer and later seasons.

Trees that appreciate with time and offer shelter are another great value as a year-round feature for an outdoor patio area. “Trees add structure and determine a space,” Reid says. “They create an overhead and intimacy as well.” For texture and structure, she particularly recommends evergreen and trees with attractive bark features.

Large planters with trees and evergreens can change with the season by incorporating understory flowers that reflect the colors of the time of year. Containers of different sizes, textures, and heights are trending now, Paragon says, because they are practical, and add visual interest and dimension to the patio area. Adding lights to trees is a design element that can be enjoyed from the inside of the home. This creates a very pleasing aesthetic, and an inviting flow from the interior space to the outdoor space. “Essentially,” Reid says, “you’re creating an outdoor ‘room’ and bringing the outside in at the same time.” This visual ‘flow’ invites movement and encourages people to go right into the outdoor patio space.


The Freedom of Summer

year-round backyard entertaining

Landscape architect, Dan Gordon Landscape Architects. Photo, Greg Premru Photography.

For summer plantings, Reid recommends hydrangeas, which offer texture and a wide color palette. Using plantings for direction and pathways creates interest. “Calculated placement of plants create discrete elements of surprise,” she says.

It is also imperative to have a well-maintained lawn. “A lawn has to be pristine because it accentuates everything in the space.”

And there’s more to a lively backyard than a pool. “Water features can be focal points if they are strategically placed,” Reid says. “They create a soothing ambience, and the sounds they offer are appreciated year-round.” Another advantage is that they also add value to a property.

swimming pool and stone waterfall

Left: landscape architect, Sean Papich Landscape Architecture; photo, Anthony Crisafulli. Right: landscape architect, Gregory Lombardi Design, Inc.; photo, Rosemary Fletcher Photography.

For maximum enjoyment of your outdoor oasis, organic sprays are available to repel mosquitoes and ticks, a major concern when backyard entertaining in New England. Professionally spraying the property on a monthly basis is another option, while other homeowners have installed systems that dispense sprays on a timer.


The Bounty of Autumn

year-round backyard entertaining firepit

Landscape architect, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design. Photo, Eric Piasecki Photography.

Nature’s vibrant color palette of crimson and gold is a wonderful basis for fall plantings. For entertainment, built-in televisions combine watching sports with backyard entertaining, New England style. According to Reid, the use of stone features outside adds a dimension of layers and interest. Stonework is used on walls, driveways, and on patio walkways where it is especially useful around the grilling area and outdoor bar room. Self-contained fire pits and fire tables afford “lots of possibilities,” she says, since each one “provides warmth as well as a focal point.” Lighting is also a key element because it sets the mood. Up-lighting trees, for instance, creates a moonlighting effect that those inside the house will appreciate.


The Wonderland of Winter

year-round backyard entertaining fireplace at night

Landscape architect, Dan Gordon Landscape Architects. Photo, Greg Premru Photography.

Radiant heat, fire pits, covered patios, and sturdy outdoor furniture will go a long way in helping everyone enjoy winter entertaining outdoors, Reid says. About the winter landscape: “It is filled with interest: berries, colored, exfoliating bark, and grasses serve as the season’s main focal points, creating form and texture.” Trees and plantings reveal abstract shapes which add interest and depth to an outdoor entertainment area, as do ornamental grasses, even in the winter. “Lush evergreen plantings are used,” she says, “to block the wind and add privacy to an outdoor entertainment area.”

Hedges are also very popular for year-round privacy, and pergolas can define space. Hot tubs and spas provide a source of relaxation and comfort while you enjoy backyard entertaining year-round in New England.

Changing landscapes provide an opportunity for entertaining 365 days a year in your outdoor area. But why so much interest in it now? Reid says: “Technology has created appliances that withstand the elements of a winter season. A large variety of technology can be incorporated into outdoor spaces. Ideas and options that are available now enable homeowners to create another room outside.” So, the time is right to get your patio area ready for four-season backyard entertaining in New England.

Paragon Landscape Construction, Hanover, Mass., 781-834-1000

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