Whether you have a pretty garden filled with flowers or a modern terrace like the one in the photo, these spaces are often one of the highlights of your home.
How do you make your outdoor space attractive to your guests? If you don't have a garden / balcony / terrace, what kind of outdoor space would you have if you could?
I am sure you have some great tips and ideas! :)
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My garden and patio spaces are a work in progress. This is my first garden and I’m learning each season.
My my goal is to have a four season garden with visual interest even in the cold months. My guests use the hot tub and must walk through the garden to get to it, so keeping it interesting is a goal.
I do not crurrently have a good winter garden, but it’s starting to come along.
The other three seasons I did a better job of, and my guests notice and use the garden. Cozy spots to sit in both sun and shade, a heater for brisk temps, and a fire pit for ambiance. I’ve three different seating areas, one of which is dining for guests to enjoy. On th deck near the hot tub, I keep a storage table with yoga essentials, mat, blocks, and straps. It’s a wonderful spot for yoga.
I try try to keep seasonal interest in the planters, and have added a fountain, garden flags, humming bird feeders, and a deep beautiful wind chime. It creates a relaxing environment. Weather permitting.
@Willow your post somewhat made the point I was going to add: Try to make a garden or an outdoor space usable in all seasons (aka in all types of weather). Then it is indeed usable, even in part, at all times.
I wish my guests would use my garden more often. San Francisco is famous for its chilly and foggy summers and rainy winters, so even in July and August it's often too chilly to sit outside comfortably. However, my breakfast nook area looks out directly onto my garden and guests love to sit at the big picture windows and look out at it while eating breakfast, so I keep it as visually pleasing as possible with flowers, large cactus, a lemon tree full of lemons (in season), a hummingbird feeder that attracts hummingbirds all day long, and a table with chairs for those guests who do brave the cool temps to sit outside.
@Michael, your garden sounds absolutely lovely and, as a gardener, one that would stand out to me if I were visiting as a guest! At our place, I've found that some guests have an internal "line" with certain spaces, where they don't use them unless they're specifically invited to. For instance, we have a porch swing with a great view of the lake, mountains and skyscrapers, but people were rarely using it. In our welcome message, we let people know that it was a space they could use, and started noticing people taking their morning coffee and phone calls there. While it was just a few steps up and near our front door, the fact that it was closer to our front door than it was to their private entrance I think gave a sense of separation that made guests intuit that the porch swing was in our host space. My speculation was that they were, out of consideration, shying away from using a great space simply because it seemed more in our space than theirs. When we started inviting guests to use and enjoy that space, it became the most popular place in the yard! :)
@Lizzie I think whatever you do, the landscaping should look like it's cared for. It doesn't need to be pristine, but a quick whip-round with the mower every week and some weeding doesn't go amiss. Dead or dying plants should get removed ASAP. An untended, unloved garden is never going to be wecoming.
Comfortable furniture is also a plus, as well as some shade. I like the patio you have in your opening image, but for me, it needs an umbrella or something else to provide a little bit of relief from the sun. I think having some lighting so the area can still be enjoyed in the evening is also nice, especially if the climate is very tropical.
Here's the outdoor setup at my main Airbnb.
My cottage outdoor areas are getting redone this year: I'm putting outdoor couches and loungers on the porch, and a table with seating for 8 on the back deck. I don't want to share last year's pictures, because what was there was just too ugly.
We're still getting intermittent snow here in Ontario, so no deck or patio use yet!
@Alexandra, thanks for sharing these pics - I couldn't agree more that whatever is offered is best received by guests if it is clean and well-tended. We made the mistake the first week of AirBnB'ing of tending to every little detail of our indoor space - it was perfection - and prioritized that over planting flowers. They were literally in place and ready to plant, but just hadn't gotten them out of their pots and in the ground. Everything was weeded, cleaned up, mowed, etc, but flowers not planted. We thought that would be forgiveable, since our indoor space was immaculate and the outdoor space was clean. The guest raved and raved about the room, but then gave us a 4* commenting on the walk-up could use some work. We were crushed and a little peeved, but learned our lesson fast. Now, we make sure that even if we haven't advertised usage of the outdoor space as a part of the deal, it is as perfect as the indoor space; guests still are checking it out and incorporating it into their evaluation of their overall experience.
@Lizzie I'm on a third of an acre near the beach and I give my guests the entire North half of the property. So when I think of outdoor space, I think of creating a sense of privacy, but also, I want to create pockets / areas of useable space that my guests can relax and/or recreate in to the sounds of the nearby sea. Also, my property is left natural in certain areas as there are many shore pines surrounding the Cottage; this adds to a sense of seclusion, and the natural setting attracts cute little wild bunnies, deer, and many types of birds.
I'll never forget a young couple that had come to stay at the cottage with the idea they would be out most of the time hanging out with local friends. They decided to cancel ALL of their plans just to enjoy the Cottage and the outdoor space. They laid on their backs on the lawn; they drew pictures of flowers; they relaxed in the sun room; and later they hung out with us at the firepit to share food, drink, and stories. They have since become dear friends.
I was fortunate that the owners I bought the property from had already thoughtfully laid out beautiful, useable outdoor space. Guests walk out of their cottage door and onto a small lawn area, which leads to a large, cedar-shingle sunroom. This used to be a greenhouse, but I had the idea to convert it into a sunroom for the guests, and it has been a big hit - Even in inclement weather guests can enjoy the outdoors and hear the crashing of the ocean while drinking tea and reading a book. Across from the sunroom is a patio with a grill and firepit. There is another wooded area with a swinging love seat that I also put up for guests (it hangs securely from a tree). A large cedar-shingle shed full of firewood is also on the guest side, as well as a compost container. I plan to put pots of 'edibles' over on the guest side - strawberries, herbs, and such - So guests can pick their own fruits, herbs, etc (they also know that they are welcome to pick produce from my garden on the other side of the property). Here's some pics!
@Rebecca, this is gorgeous! It makes me want to drive down to OR just to stay at your place! Our outdoor space also has an outdoor fireplace. As a guest, I think it's such a great addition. As a host, I get anxious about liabilities with things like outdoor fireplaces, BBQs, trampolines, etc... The upside is that they are very attractive and added comforts - the downside is the many ways guests can use them to hurt themselves and then potentially come after the host. I wonder if there's some great waiver that hosts can use for that type of thing...
@Ashley Thank you so much for your kind words about the Cottage. It is truly magical here, you must come visit one day, we have many ABB guests from Washington! It is interesting - I've been open a full year now and have been booked solid since opening, and I believe less than 10 guests have used the firepit or outdoor grill. I dare to offer this as I have a large patio and it is not a dry area and I have no low branches, etc; I also have found ways to screen guests that lead to very responsible people staying here (usually), even with Instant Booking on, and that has also helped. Also, I live on the property and could intervene quickly if something went awry- one of us is always home. With that said, I do have excellent insurance that is a combination commercial / residential insurance plan, and this gives me added peace of mind. Anything my guests do is covered.
Most of my guests seem to come from city apartment living where there is not much opportunity to have an outdoor space. Somewhere private where they can sit amongst flowers and things with a cup of coffee or a wine and a cigarette. Most of them are Asian and they really appreaciate the tranquility, far removed from their everyday lives.
@Alexandra I am not so sure that it needs to be neat and pristine! Sure grass cut and dea flowers removed but sometimes our rear garden is ankle deep in leaves but nobody minds that!
Like @Rebecca I have some guests who just prefer to sit with a book rather than go out and explore. For that reason I have made all four of my outdoor seating areas very comfortable, a couple of them in outrageous style. These chairs are obviously not designed for external use but they are so comfortable, and each night the covers go over them to keep the possums and birds off them. They look outrageous and ridiculous but that is the whole idea...something you will never come across anywhere else!
I call this my 'Tribal Council Area'....for those who watch 'Survivor'!
The great thing about a garden is, it takes you on a journey. I was fortunate to have taken a few before and after photos, not just of the house and cottage which are great to look back on, but the garden as well.
The first day be came around the corner and looked at the back yard after parting with our hard earned cash, we thought we were totally mad......The first shot is after I mowed the waist high grass so we could walk through it. There is an upside down clothes line in there somewhere!
But we made something of it and got a mass of joy doing it and watching it take shape and repay our (my) hard work and Ade's planning.
I am finding as we transform it, we bring in the other locals which delight the guests but do a great deal of damage......Possums are a continual menace, they eat the juiciest flowers and fruit from the trees and leave a hell of a mess. And over the past couple months we seem to have picked up a resident Koala! Almost each night it keeps tripping the sensor lights, and being surprisingly heavy, tramples the garden wherever he/she chooses to sit on it's nocturnal wanderings. I think it comes into our garden for water as it has been really dry here all this year and I have a couple of bird baths and a fish pond, so I leave a tap dripping which is their favourite way of drinking...
The guest just love these diversions and are ecstatic when they can take a picture of a Koala right outside their door. Have not been able to get close enough to pat it yet but I am working on it and I keep getting a supply of fresh Eucalyptus leaves to try and gain it's trust.
The garden is a joy and having 4 different outdoor seating areas gives guests a peacefull quiet place to relax during the warmer months. I have set ashtrays up at the various outdoor tables so they can puff their heads off without being a problem to anyone else.
I look back on my before and after shots often and always get a thrill out of seeing how we are going.
The only before/after shot I am not crazy about is this one....time can be sort of cruel.
@Ashley Thanks Ashley, yeah we were once upon a time weren't we!! :-((
The Koala definitely has adopted us for the time, most nights he/she will put in appearance somewhere on the block, and I am doing all I can to make this area attractive and a Koala welcome environment. The guests that have seen it have got a real thrill out of it and 'Blinky Bill' has become something of a star..... lots of photos, selfies with him in the background. When I have got its trust a bit more I will try and make a small movie of how close guests can actually interact with a wild animal!
Ashley, it will be short lived though, they do tend to roam and it will only take the appearance of a fox in the area and it will be gone, just like that. I am contructing a reasonably large box which I will mount high up in one of the peripheral trees in the garden. Somewhere were it will feel safe without being in the public gaze.
Even Betts seems to understand this addition needs its own space and is giving it a suitably wide berth, now that the initial curiosty factor has passed.
I would love to think I could hang onto it but I know, it's only on loan to us as long as BB feels like it!
@Robin - your garden is what my garden wants to be when it grows up! I absolutely love it. When I first designed ours, we required open space for entertaining large numbers (spouses work obligations) but now as retirement looms, I want to cozy it up with lush plantings. I worked "rooms" into the hardscape, now I just gotta soften the edges and cozy it up.