Wide Open Spaces: Outdoor Apartment Landscape Ideas

Apartment landscapes aren’t just for pansies anymore.

Pretty flowers, shrubs and hedges are getting a lot of competition as community landscapes are muscling up to accommodate a sense of gamesmanship, competition and personal fitness. Recent installations of outdoor lawn chess, disc golf, sand volleyball and interactive fitness trails are becoming more fashionable to engage apartment communities and enable residents an element of fitness, bragging rights and socializing.

In the past few years, multifamily communities have focused heavily on new and different amenities to keep occupancies high and beat the competition. Outdoor fire pits, conversation and grilling areas and walking trails are popular extensions of living spaces that encourage residents to gather and relax.

But apartments are taking outdoor living a step farther while adding a little spirited competition through low-maintenance sports and gaming activities that complement the landscape and maximize use of green areas. Several communities in Dallas/Fort Worth are turning open space into spirited gaming areas to offer residents a chance to break a sweat.

Here are a few growing outdoor amenities that are easy to install and offer residents another way to entertain, socialize and compete:

Lawn chess

Giant rooks, kings, queens and pawns are the name of the game on an outdoor lawn chess set that requires residents more than a push of the hand. The checkered board can be installed over roughly 300 square feet using 2 x 2 maintenance-free squares of concrete and artificial turf.

Disc golf

Disc golf, a flying disc game, is nothing new. In fact, it’s quite competitive. But it’s a low-maintenance game that will appease residents who don’t have time to hit the links or just want to play at their leisure after work. Once the “holes” or poles are installed, there is little to keep up other than a new coat of paint and normal ground maintenance. The number of holes really doesn’t matter. But for those keeping score, the usual layout has 18. Obstacles like trees make the course more challenging.

Sand volleyball

Sand volleyball, a staple on West Coast beaches for years, has grown in popularity, with courts etching into communities across the country. The playing area, composed of fine sand, is similar in size to a volleyball court and is easy to groom and keep filled. Word to the wise: Install the court away from areas where others will gather to socialize. Nobody wants their drink spiked with a leather ball.

Interactive Trails

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Larger properties have plenty of room for walking trails to stay fit, but adding workout stations along the way is a great way to give residents a complete workout. Chin-up and stair-step stations, horizontal bars, ladder bars, push-up bars and quad spinners are among a number of outdoor fitness stations on the market today. The stations can be centrally located or spread out along a jogging trail around the property.

Putting greens

While areas where golfers can practice their putts and chips aren’t new, placed in tandem with other outdoor amenities, they can be a desirable area for residents. Synthetic turf can be installed and is easy to maintain. Placing three or four greens around the property within an easy walk offers residents a little stroll in between chips. And in the spirit of the real game, station the last hole next to the grilling area where golfers will surely want to gather for a cool drink and tell stories!

With a little imagination and some outdoor products on the market today, an apartment community can add a new meaning to “amenity”. And at the same time offer residents a chance to compete near the comfort of their home.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)


President, Earthworks

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Chris Lee is President of Dallas, Texas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping. He is a contributing author to Landscape Management magazine, licensed irrigation specialist and a Toro Intellisense certified technician. Chris studied business at the University of Arkansas from 1990-94 and horticulture and landscape design at Tarrant County College from 1999-01. He has been employed at Earthworks since 1998.

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