More than just standard vegetation is being cultivated outdoors as al fresco spaces become an integral part of the home for entertaining and relaxation.

Jim Graeler, Chesterfield Valley Nursery

>  Container gardening has become more popular; use worn weathered pots for impact. The combination of annuals and perennials creates a dramatic effect.

>  Look for dwarf plant options to meet the needs of a small space.

>  Use deer resistant vegetation like boxwood plants, evergreens and crape myrtle, which provide color from mid-July through the first frost.

Mike Brueggenjohann, California Decks

>  Deck designs extend beyond the traditional, incorporating fire pits, gazebos, screen rooms and cooking islands.

>  Rich, earth-tone flooring with variegated patterns has taken precedence over the lighter, solid colors of the past.

>  Consider shade, size, ease of maintenance and lighting for ambiance or safety when designing deck space.

>  Under-deck rain drainage on an elevated deck provides protection from the elements and the option to convert the area underneath to a screened area, outdoor kitchen or dining space.

John Jacobsen, Liquid Assets Pools

>  Due to the green movement, pools with an eco-friendly design are increasing in popularity.

>  Pool covers significantly reduce heating needs, maintenance costs and save energy, often by 50 to 70 percent.

>  A salt chlorination system naturally filters chloride, eliminating harsh effects on your hair, skin and the air.

>  Use permeable/pervious surfaces for the decking and paving around your pool, allowing excess water to be filtrated and deposited back into the earth, preventing contamination of public waterways.