outdoor kitchen with bar

Prepping for Outdoor Projects

Though you just may be settling in to ride out the cold Northern Georgia winter months ahead, now is actually a great time to begin planning and preparing for upcoming outdoor improvement projects so they’ll be ready when it warms up. Whether you’re thinking of refreshing your existing landscape, taking the family gathering outside in an outdoor kitchen, adding a warm feature or taking the plunge with a new swimming pool, let us help you start planning now!

Get Inspired

Coming up with ideas, exploring what’s out there and realizing the possibilities of your outdoor space is all part of the fun of planning your next project. The first place to start is Dogwood’s Project Gallery where you can get ideas on outdoor living spaces, kitchens, fire features and more. Curling up on a comfy couch when it’s cold outside and swiping through a variety of beautiful outdoor living photos will spark dreams that you can’t wait to make come true.

Set a Budget

While dreaming is fun, most of us are all grounded by the realities of a budget. Before starting out on any project, it’s best to do a little research on costs and establish a budget so your dream can become a reality without putting you in debt. After browsing our projects gallery, take a look at our services pages for a estimated look at pricing per each facet of your outdoor living oasis.

Free form pool with concrete and stone paver patio, spa, tanning ledge and waterfall with fresh sod and mulch designed and installed for homeowner in Marietta, Georgia.

Design & Planning

There are many different ways to plan your backyard. While smaller patios and ideas can be a rough sketch or a simple spray paint meeting with us, we offer design and planning services for our larger builds. The most efficient route on bigger projects is a professionally measured drawn and even 3D rendering of your backyard. Property surveys and design meetings are slightly time consuming but they ensure you get the backyard you’re dreaming of. Typically, a 30-45 minute discussion with our design team will help you determine which direction is going to be the best for you and your family. 

Stone fireplace with wood storage, stone seating walls, over paver patio designed and installed for homeowner in Canton, Georgia. 

Add a Fire Feature

An outdoor fire feature like a fire pit or fireplace come first on this list because installation is easier and takes less time. It’s feasible you could have this installed and available to use this winter or in the early part of the year when it’s still cool. As far as planning, the first thing to determine is whether you are looking at freestanding fire pit or a traditional enclosed fireplace with a chimney. The fire pit is usually set off away from your home or outdoor living space with room for seating around it, while a fireplace often becomes the focal piece of your outdoor space. Dogwood offers pre-built modular fire places as well as wood-burning or gas fire pits. Be sure to check local codes, ordinances and HOA restrictions regarding permanent fire features as the first part of your planning process.

Incorporate Built-in Planters

A well-landscaped area in and around your outdoor living space adds a colorful, natural element that will enhance the overall look. You can utilize traditional flower beds, or choose a built-in planter constructed with retaining wall block to provide a permanent fixture for adding color, texture and dimension to your space. Planters can also help define the border of an outdoor room or serve as additional seating around a fire pit. Dogwood’s team can help you can coordinate with your pavers and landscape walls to tie the overall look together.

Outdoor kitchen under pergola

Build an Outdoor Kitchen

If you enjoy cooking, grilling and spending time with family and friends in the backyard, building an outdoor kitchen is a great way to provide a space to bring these all together. However, creating the perfect outdoor kitchen takes some planning and forethought. Here are a few things to consider.

If you add a roof covering, run electricity or install plumbing, you are most likely going to need a permit, so plan for this whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor.

Determine the Size
Figuring out the size of your outdoor kitchen depends on a variety of questions. How much space do you have and how do you plan to use it? Will it be just for cooking or will you be entertaining and eating in the area as well? Do you have a large family and many friends? Larger spaces can accommodate tables, chairs or even an island. Smaller spaces take a little more planning to maximize space.

Determine Your Cooking Style
For most people, a grill is a must. Do you want a gas grill or a charcoal grill? Is something permanent or built in the best option, or do you want something portable that you can move to a covered or uncovered area?

Appliances & Cabinets
Do you have room for a refrigerator, burners/stove, ice machine, bar/sink or more? Remember, even if covered, these items will be outdoors so they must be made to withstand the elements. For example, stainless steel cabinets, storage and accessories are always a good investment. Dogwood offers offers a variety of products to take your outdoor kitchen to the next level.

Free form pool with concrete and stone paver patio, spa, tanning ledge and waterfall with fresh sod and mulch designed and installed for homeowner in Marietta, Georgia.  

Make a Splash with a Pool

Planning on putting in a pool to enjoy next summer? Lead time on pool construction has become longer in recent years so winter is definitely the time to start planning. Here are some initial things to consider before beginning discussions with your contractor.

Check for Wires Above and Below
For safety reasons, your pool cannot be installed or built under any overhead wires (electrical and other utilities). Also, check your home plans for any sewer, gas or utility lines running under your yard. You can also call 811 for free to confirm what’s below.

Assess Your Yard
While pools are generally easier to build or install when a yard is level, new technology makes it possible to install a pool virtually anywhere. Just know that conditions such as steep slopes, rocky soil, and limited access for equipment require special construction and installation considerations that typically add to the overall cost.

Consider the Size
Do you plan on eliminating your lawn entirely and filling the space with a pool and patio? Or are you looking to include grassy areas in the new landscape. In addition, working with a professional contractor will allow you access to the most up-to-date zoning, setbacks and building restrictions, which are extremely important to consider before construction begins.

Do You Need an Enclosure?
Depending on where you live you may need to budget for a fence or pool covering to keep your family and neighbors safe.

Get Your Feet Wet
Looking for a little inspiration and ideas on pool design? Check out Dogwood’s Project Gallery for a look at some amazing pool features and design inspiration.

Use this downtime during winter to plan for spring and you’ll be ahead of the game when temperatures rise. For more planning tips check out our our other blog posts.


Ready to get started on your landscape project? Let Dogwood’s team of professional experts help make the design, build, and maintain process an easy and enjoyable one. Contact us HERE or by calling 678-368-7000 to take the first step towards making your outdoor oasis dreams come true. And remember, Your Backyard Has Dreams Too!