Picture perfect green lawns are iconic in our society, a relic of the 1950s that Americans now spend about 40 billion dollars a year to maintain, yes, that’s a B, as in billion. Admittedly, a nice lawn in summer, that perfectly mowed green carpet, a signpost to our neighbors that we have everything together, is a beautiful thing. But what do you do with your lawn besides look out the window at it in admiration.

It’s surprising how long it took us as a society to realize that lawns, are to a great degree, wasted space but the future is now and if you haven’t yet, it’s time you begin thinking about creating outdoor living spaces. The key word here is living! Lawns are empty canvases begging for designs that meet your needs and enhance your quality of life.

Here are 5 Things to consider when transforming your lawn into outdoor living spaces:

1. Prioritize your needs and desires. Do you want to play, eat, socialize or just sit and watch the hummingbirds suck sugar from your flowers? Visualize what you need and want to do outside.

2. Imagine your outside area as an extension of your house. You wouldn’t leave unused space inside so why have most of us done that outside, for decades? Do you like to cook? Then maybe an outside kitchen is in order. Do you visit gardens in the spring to see the blooming azaleas? Then likely you should add some flower planters. Do you have friends over to enjoy the spring and summer evenings? It sounds like you should add a fire pit with accompanying patio furniture.

3. Let function guide the form. There is no need to sacrifice design for utility but usefulness should come first. With the proper attention to detail, you can always create a beautiful space that meets your needs of yard games, food or friends.

4. Visualize the best use of your lawn before picking up the shovel. Let your desires and dreams guide the transformation of your yard. Make a detailed plan before you begin.

5. Consider hiring a professional. Experience matters and there are highly qualified professionals who can offer you multiple quality options to choose from.

Stop only looking out the window at your yard and create a space that adds to your life and makes you smile.