Exterior Worlds
Outdoor Kitchen
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Plants and Shrubs for Summer Kitchen Design

An outdoor building as complex as a summer kitchen can easily rival a custom indoor kitchen. There are few exceptions to this rule. With such an important investment on the line, does it not make sense to choose the very best plants and shrubs to tie the luxury of the manmade to the beauty of the natural?

There is more at stake here than choosing bushes and flowers that appear attractive. There is a duality in professional landscaping between the decorative and the practical that must be fulfilled in order for the bigger picture of your landscape master plan to unfold.

Ironically, while landscaping deals with molding the beauty of nature into an outdoor living environment, as little as 20 percent of any yard may actually be softscape elements. The remaining square footage is occupied by hardscape elements such as patios and outdoor buildings like your new outdoor kitchen.

This is why it is so important that you resist the temptation to run down to the garden center and start buying plants and shrubs to go around your summer kitchen. You may end up with vegetation that only looks good for part of the spring and early summer, than begins to wither in the heat after the Fourth of July.


Exterior Worlds professionals, however, are trained in botany and know exactly what every outdoor kitchen needs in terms of softscape accent. They will find the vegetation with the right colors, leaf patterns, flowering cycles, and grow rates that will look best with your particular summer kitchen’s design. This will unify its form with that of your house, your gardens, your lawn, and your hardscape designs.

We install plants and shrubs that compliment your outdoor kitchen year round. It is necessary that ground cover species and vegetation for vertical impact remain both green and colorful regardless of the season. Outdoor kitchens these days are equipped with climate control systems. They offer a year-round outdoor dining experience. As such, the foliage that supports them must thrive perennially as well.

Our approach to landscaping design also involves planting low-maintenance ground cover vegetation. This helps unify the foundation and patio area of your summer kitchen with the surrounding lawn. On a pragmatic level, it also means less work for you, because the species we carefully select do not require the constant attention that even most lawn grasses call for.

There may also be a second layer of plants and shrubs that lend what could loosely be called a sense of “fullness” to the scene. By this we mean surrounding the structure with vegetation that makes the sides and back of the structure look surrounded by organic vitality.

On a practical level, when done by experts, it also keeps the interior partially shaded in the summer. A well-designed softscape entrance can even function as a partial screen that permits only the best view of the surrounding Houston landscape from the perspective of the dining area.

In certain summer kitchen designs as well, we may also want to use a third grouping of very tall plants and shrubs to add vertical impact. This is commonly done in yards where space is limited and tree growth around the kitchen foundation is either inadvisable or not possible.

Tall shrubs are often substituted for trees because they can generate an equally sublime effect on the senses when chosen by a trained expert. On a practical level as well, they avoid the pitfalls of foundation damage that tree roots can and often do cause when they grow to close to outdoor buildings.