The pergola is a classic garden feature and a longtime favorite outdoor installation since the seventeenth century. Pergolas can come in a kit or be custom built on site. With climbing vines, fragrant hanging baskets, or billowing curtains, the space under a pergola creates a private outdoor room perfect for reading a book, practicing yoga, or conversing with friends.
Fire pits and fire tables, too, have found new life in the landscaping arena. Whether constructed from locally sourced materials or purchased ready-made and easy to install, each adds warmth to a space, literally and figuratively. With fire restrictions in many areas, gas fire pits have gained recent popularity and provide immediate ambiance on a patio.They can be placed into a custom-built enclosure with a buried gas line or used immediately with a fuel supply line leading to a small propane tank. Stash the tank behind a piece of outdoor furniture or under a table to minimize the unfinished look of the bare tank.
The undisputed winner in the sensory garden category is the water feature. Architectural Digest calls the bubbling sound of water “meditative.” Water fountains come in all sizes, from a large outdoor wall waterfall to a small table-top unit that just needs water and a source of power. (Solar-power is environmentally friendly and more affordable.)
Other easy-to-install water features include rain chains with catch basins that hang from a pergola eave or gutter, bird baths with solar-powered bubblers, shallow decorative dishes with standing water changed daily, or ponds of any size.