Outdoor Design Ideas for Rental Communities

outdoor design ideas

| Oct 27, 2021

Investing in outdoor areas for your rental communities helps increase occupancy rates and resident satisfaction. It enhances curb appeal, adds value and helps the residents build a sense of community. Creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces helps you stand out from the competition and attracts the residents you want. Ultimately, your outdoor design can increase your bottom line. When implementing an outdoor design project, remember to consider the first impression, safety and maintenance. You’ll want to add a common area for socialization, greenery and seating areas, but the design options are endless.

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6 Reasons to Create Outdoor Spaces Within Your Rental Communities

Creating outdoor spaces has numerous benefits. They can help your residents build a sense of community, increase occupancy, raise resident satisfaction and even help you target specific renters. All these factors are important in having happy residents and maintaining profits. If you’re not completely convinced the investment is worth it, just take a look at these six reasons.

1. Build a Sense of Community

Outdoor spaces provide a comfortable place where neighbors can meet and be social. They promote positive interactions and can make your rentals feel more like a community. Residents often don’t plan to stay in a rental forever, which can hinder them from building relationships with their neighbors. Creating communal spaces gives them a reason to get to know each other. Once people feel like they’re part of a positive community, they are more likely to be happier and stay there longer.


2. Increase Occupancy

Designing attractive landscapes around your rental buildings increases how appealing they look to potential renters. It goes without saying that you need people to be interested in your property to maintain maximum occupancy. If your property looks attractive, clean and well taken care of, people are more likely to be interested in living there. Increasing occupancy is a necessary part of any rental company’s bottom line. To do this, you’ll need to create curb appeal that delivers a favorable and long-lasting first impression. When someone moves out, there should already be people interested in your property.

3. Add Value

Investing in outdoor spaces adds value to the property and makes residents feel like they are getting more for their money, potentially allowing you to charge more. The rental market can be very competitive, and some renters decide where to live based on the value added to the property. Putting time and money into the landscaping, outdoor spaces and amenities shows that your company cares about your residents’ safety, cleanliness and comfort. A well-maintained outdoor space implies that management is active and responsive to all maintenance issues.

4. Raise Resident Satisfaction

Resident satisfaction is important in maintaining your company’s reputation and your community’s occupancy. When you invest in the community, current residents benefit. Resident satisfaction can also create positive word of mouth, increasing the number of interested renters and occupancy rates. Satisfied residents are also more likely to put effort into the community, follow the rules and clean up after themselves.


5. Target Specific Renters

If you want to target specific people, you can do it by designing specific outdoor spaces. For example, a playground will likely appeal to families, and a putting green could appeal to older adults. Sports courts and walking paths may appeal more to adult professionals and active individuals. Your outdoor space will attract renters, so you should try to attract the type of renter that best fits your property.

6. Stand out From the Competition

Many renters make quick decisions based on the appearance of the rental community. People driving by or visiting current residents will notice if your property has attractive landscaping. These outdoor spaces enhance your curb appeal, show that your company puts effort into more than the bare minimum and help you stand out from your competitors. A well-maintained landscape implies your company also maintains the inside of the units and other places on the property. This can be a make-or-break factor for renters.

6 Elements to Consider When Designing an Outdoor Space at a Rental Community

Designing an outdoor space for your rental community comes with challenges, and there are many things to consider when implementing a new project or improving an existing outdoor space. You’ll want to think about how the property looks to people just passing by. Does it look run-down, overgrown or neglected? Or does it look clean, safe and regularly maintained? Evaluate your outdoor spaces at night as well. Is the parking lot well-lit? Are the walkways easy to navigate at night? Finally, ask yourself if your outdoor spaces are adequate for social distancing and COVID-19 related concerns. These elements are all a part of how to design your outdoor space.

1. First Impressions

One of the reasons to design an outdoor space is to enhance curb appeal, and that’s a huge part of first impressions. If you want to stand out from your competitors, you’ll need to make a long-lasting impression. When people see your rental community, you want it to stick in their minds so they’ll remember it when they’re looking to rent. Put some care into the way the property looks from the road and how the entrance looks. Since it’s impossible to tell when someone’s first impression will be, you’ll have to plan for year-round appeal. This means you can’t just have landscaping that is attractive in spring. Choose trees and flowers that bloom at different times of the year so you always have an appealing landscape.


2. Lighting

An often overlooked part of landscape design is the lighting. Lighting can make a huge difference in both aesthetics and safety of the community. You can use lighting to accent your entrance and other architectural features. Lighting is an important part of landscape design, so don’t forget about it! Lighting is also important for safety. Well-lit walkways are important for avoiding tripping injuries. Lighting up the building can also help deter potential burglars and trespassers by removing the opportunity for concealment. Use low-voltage LED lighting to reduce the energy costs and the maintenance required.

3. Maintenance

Consider maintenance with every aspect of your design. It would be detrimental to invest in the outdoor space only to have it become unusable because of a lack of maintenance. Create a maintenance plan and ensure you have the budget to continue it. Residents expect amenities and spaces to remain functional. Trim back trees, take out weeds, clean the walkways and repair broken furniture to maintain the investment.


4. COVID-19

The pandemic changed many things, and it’s unclear how long concerns will linger. When designing your outdoor space, you should consider social distancing practices. Make sure to leave enough space for your residents so they can social distance. Any furniture you place should be able to be easily sanitized. You could even place hand sanitizing stations near entrances as an extra precaution. Research how to create safe outdoor spaces during COVID-19.

5. Consistency

When you’re selecting outdoor amenities and furniture, you’ll want to maintain a consistent style. This creates a brand image for your company and helps separate your space from competitors. Before buying additions, consider your brand style. To highlight your brand, you can pick elements that match your company’s colors. Choose furniture from the same collection for simple coordination or mix and match to create a custom set for your needs.

6. Space

You may have many ideas for your rental community outdoor space, but you may be limited by the space available. Prioritize the elements you think will bring more value to your community and work with the space that you have. If you have a lot of space, you’ll want to consider how to connect all the elements in a way that makes sense. If you have a smaller space, think about how to position your amenities so they aren’t too crowded.

Must-Have Items to Include in Your Rental Community Outdoor Space

These elements are just the beginning of continuing to improve your outdoor space. Your rental community should include a common area, some extra greenery and benches for residents to sit.


1. Common Area

An outdoor common area is a great way to foster positive interactions between neighbors. It provides a gathering space for residents and their guests and expands their living area to the outdoors. Create a space where people can host parties or meet new friends. Place tables that enhance the aesthetic of the space, attract visitors and encourage residents to spend time together outside. Remember to use shade, whether from umbrellas, awnings or trees.

  • Tables: Outdoor eating areas give residents a way to get a change in scenery and enjoy the outdoors. Wabash Valley Site Furnishings has many picnic tables and dining set options for your outdoor common area. You can choose tables with attached seats or separate tables and chairs. You can choose round tables, square tables, low tables or bar-height tables for endless style options.
  • Umbrellas: Umbrellas are important for keeping your residents out of the direct sun when they are eating or relaxing outside. Wabash Valley commercial umbrellas are some of the toughest on the market and can handle rough weather conditions.

2. Greenery

Greenery has been shown to improve health and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Going above and beyond to improve the aesthetics of your community also provides other benefits to your residents. Greenery and landscaping also can help prevent flooding, increases biodiversity and reduces noise. You can use greenery, like shrubs, to separate outdoor areas or control traffic to a certain area. Remember to consider your community’s year-round appeal, and use different plants that will be attractive during different times of the year.

Utilize planters to place greenery in areas where there isn’t a place to plant something new, such as on a patio. Add exotic plants and small trees to your outdoor space, regardless of location. Wherever you need a pop of color or extra greenery, you can find a planter that works for the space.

3. Outdoor Benches

Benches are an easy addition to any space. They can improve aesthetics while also giving your residents a place to sit and enjoy nature. Outdoor benches come in several styles, materials and lengths, so you can be sure to find one that complements your outdoor area. You can place them by entrances and exits, along walkways and in popular gathering spots. Outdoor benches encourage people to spend time outside and be active because they know they have a place to sit down when they need to relax and take a break.

Commercial benches from Wabash Valley Site Furnishings are durable and designed for minimal maintenance. Many choices come with various customization options so you can match the style or color of your other amenities with no problem. For example, you can choose a modern plastisol-coated bench.

6 Rental Community Outdoor Designs

Now that you know why you need outdoor spaces, what elements to consider and what the necessities are, it’s time to decide what kind of outdoor spaces best fit your community.


1. Community Garden

A community garden is a distinctive feature with many additional benefits. Residents can grow their own vegetables or herbs, which is bound to attract interested renters. A community garden is also a great way to foster interaction between neighbors, further building that sense of community. Gardens can offer renters in urban areas a chance to enjoy nature and relax. Many people spend their workday inside, and providing a green space is a great way to allow people to destress after a busy day. Gardens can also serve an aesthetic purpose that makes your rental property stand out.

2. Dog Park

If your rental community allows pets, a dog park is a great addition. It will give dog owners a safe place to let their pets run around and get some fresh air. Just put up some fencing and a seating area for the owners, and you’ve got a great pet-friendly amenity that takes advantage of the outdoor space. Providing an area for dogs to let out some energy could even help reduce disruptive behavior and indoor barking.


3. Covered Patio

A covered patio is a great place for residents to host gatherings during all types of weather. You can even have a barbecue area fit with outdoor grills for the ultimate picnic spot. This can be a great bonus for residents who want to host parties that won’t fit inside. It offers an extension of their living area and could be part of the value they see in your property.

4. Water Features

Water features can serve many purposes. You can use a large fountain to draw attention to your entrance or a small pond to add some relaxing water sounds to an outdoor common area. They can be big and bold statements or small accent pieces to your landscape. Regardless of what you choose, water features can add a sense of luxury and comfort to your outdoor space.

5. Playgrounds

Many families with young children will be more interested in communities with a space for their children to learn and play. These families may search for a rental with a yard where their kids can run around, but a playground goes a step farther. Playing on safe playground equipment helps children develop fine motor skills, balance and coordination. A play area also provides a place for kids to socialize with other kids in the rental community.

6. Basketball or Tennis Courts

Sports courts are another outdoor amenity you can provide to your residents. Providing a basketball or tennis court encourages residents to get active and socialize with others, whether they invite their friends or other residents for a friendly game. Exercise is an important part of physical and mental health, so giving residents easy access is a great benefit.

3 Things Residents Expect in Outdoor Common Areas

Your residents will have certain expectations. You’ll have to keep the area safe, clean and functional. Failing to meet these expectations removes the value that your investment provided in the first place.

1. Safety

People expect to be safe in and around their homes. The outdoor common areas are an extension of their living space and should be as safe as possible. Exterior lighting is a huge factor when it comes to safety. Line walkways with path lights so residents don’t have to worry about tripping when they come home after dark. Parking lots or garages should also have lighting for the same reason. Lighting up outdoor spaces and the exterior of the building even helps deter potential trespassers. Another way to increase safety is to enclose the outdoor common area so it is only accessible by residents.


2. Cleanliness

Your outdoor area should remain clean to benefit the community. Installing recycling and trash receptacles can help encourage your residents to keep the area clean and free of trash and debris. You may need staff to deep-clean the area occasionally and sanitize furniture. Walkways and outdoor walls might also need pressure washing.

Trash receptacles are a great way to encourage people to do their part in keeping the space clean. But they don’t have to take away from the beauty of the space! You can choose an aesthetically pleasing trash receptacle that complements your other amenities with Wabash Valley. Outdoor ashtrays also help the space stay free of cigarettes and ash.

3. Functionality

Any amenities you provide have to remain functional, so you must maintain whatever you add. An outdoor area is an amenity, and if you advertise this to current and new residents, they will expect it to be functional and accessible. Outdoor furniture and benches occasionally need upkeep, walkways need to be fixed if they crack or chip, and lightbulbs need to be changed.


Explore Wabash Valley Outdoor Products

Elevate the outdoor space at your rental community with quality site amenities from Wabash Valley Furnishings. We manufacture beautiful outdoor furniture for multi-unit rental properties, apartment complexes, malls, restaurants and other communities. Make your rental property more appealing to potential residents with attractive, functional and durable site amenities in your outdoor spaces.

Investing in the outdoor space of your rental community will bring benefits such as increased occupancy, higher resident satisfaction and improved market value. You can stand out from your competition and create a long-lasting impression that will allow your rental community to thrive. Contact us to inquire about our product offerings or to request a quote for your project.