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Important Considerations and Design Ideas for Landscaping Church Grounds

Posted On: August 28,2018 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

A southern Baptist Church in Georgia.Just as homeowners are looking to expand their living area with outdoor spaces, churches are also looking to extend their usable space to the outdoors.

As your church grows, you might be thinking about how you can expand and improve your campus for visitors and attendees.

Landscaping the church grounds with the addition of features such as pavilions, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and seating areas, will not only make the campus more aesthetically appealing, but it will make it more usable, too.

If you’re thinking about exploring various church landscaping designs, but feel as though you don’t know where to begin, then we’ve got lots of ideas to get you started.


Church Landscaping Ideas to Consider

There are many different church landscaping ideas that you might not have even thought of. Chances are, you have at least several groups that meet regularly at the church. By creating an outdoor space that they can meet, you add a whole new level of enjoyment to those meetings.

Church landscape with seating and fire pit

You also create more usable space, allowing your congregation and its various groups to spread out. While one meeting is taking place inside, another could be going on outside.

Here are some church landscaping ideas to consider.

Rehearsal Dinners

If you hold weddings at your church then adding an outdoor pavilion where the couple’s rehearsal dinner could be hosted would be a welcome addition.


A nice outdoor space might even become a site for the reception or even the wedding itself!

Youth Group Gatherings

outdoor-stone-fireplace-irregular-flagstone-patio-sechrist-867853-editedAn outdoor space could also be an area where your church youth group can hold their weekly gatherings.

It’s been popular to add an outdoor fireplace or an outdoor fire pit area to the youth group space where young people can gather around the fire, toast marshmallows, and have a comforting place to socialize.


Board of Elder Meetings

Being able to move your Board of Elder meetings outside of the four walls of the church can add a whole new level of enjoyment and appreciation to those regular meetings.

Pastoral Meetings

If one of your pastors is meeting with a member of the opposite sex for a pastoral counseling session, hosting that meeting in an outdoor space will help put the person at ease rather than meeting in a small enclosed office where they’re alone.

Church Picnics and Celebrations

With an outdoor pavilion, perhaps complete with an outdoor kitchen, you can start hosting annual picnics or other church events.


Maybe in the past, you’ve had to rent a space or even use someone’s home to host an outdoor gathering with the congregation. By adding a pavilion to your church grounds, you can now host those gatherings on site.  

Kids’ Events

If your church hosts an annual Vacation Bible School or another form of kid’s camp, an outdoor space is a great place for the kids to have craft time, snacks, or even lunch, outdoors.church landscape design

Similarly, if your church also encompasses a preschool, the outdoor space will be a welcome addition to be used for these activities. As parents increasingly seek out schools that incorporate lots of outdoor time into their preschooler’s day, an outdoor pavilion would make your preschool even more enticing and may boost your enrollment.

Daily Church Staff Lunches

Pastors and other church staff are often in their church office all day long during the week. By adding an outdoor pavilion with a kitchen, they now have a space to enjoy—and maybe even cook—their lunch.


Instead of being cooped up inside all day, they can go outside during the lunch hour, grill some burgers, and socialize.

How to Begin the Process

You may already be confident that you want to move forward with a design for  landscaping at your church, but you don’t know what’s next. At Earth, Turf, & Wood, we have already completed many church landscaping designs and have more in the works. We’ve seen what has worked well for churches in the Lancaster, Reading, York, and Hershey, PA areas.Earth Turf & Wood church landscape design

Raising the funds for your new outdoor living area might mean organizing a capital campaign. Obviously, you already have expenses that your congregation’s weekly tithes contribute to. Therefore, organizing a separate capital campaign to raise funds for an outdoor space may be necessary.

Church landscape fire pit

In order to get buy-in from the congregation, you want to have a good landscape design that you can show them. A 3D rendering of the proposed space will help get regular attendees and members excited about the new space and on board to contribute. A beautiful rendering could be part of a successful presentation about the project.


Choosing a Professional for Church Landscape Design

Garner-construction-4-1Of course, in order to get that solid design, you need to work with a landscape contractor that truly knows their stuff.

You might be wondering whether the average landscape company has enough experience working with churches. The answer is likely, no. Most landscape companies have never worked with a church.

At the very least, you want to find a landscape company that has designed and built spectacular outdoor living space for residential homes, but even then you might be wary about how they’ll parlay those skills into a much bigger project. Ideally, you want to find a landscape professional who has worked on large-scale projects.

At Earth, Turf, & Wood, not only have we built spectacular outdoor living space for residential homes but we’ve also built them for resorts and commercial spaces—and most importantly, we’ve built them for churches. There are definitely some differences when you’re building a pavilion for a backyard that only needs to accommodate a family of four and some guests versus building a pavilion that needs to accommodate 500 members of your church—or maybe more.Church landscape design lighting

Since landscaping design for churches is not a brand-new concept for us, we’re not performing trial-and-error. We have tried-and-true church landscaping ideas to suggest on top of listening to your wants and needs in order to customize your plan.

It’s also important to note that church grounds, just like any other outdoor space, can be subject to problems that absolutely must be addressed before building an outdoor living area.

landscape drainageFor instance, if your church has any sort of drainage problem, you want to make sure that a drainage solution is implemented to address those water concerns. The last thing that you want is to invest in an outdoor space only to have it damaged by unaddressed water issues. Choosing a landscape company that has the forethought, and the skill, to address problems is key.

A beautiful new outdoor space is no small investment and you want to be sure that you choose wisely when it comes to building it. After all, you want to ensure that all of the congregation members who invested in its completion are happy with the results. By choosing a landscape company that has experience in large-scale outdoor living spaces, you can feel confident that your new space will come together just as you imagined it—if not better.

If you’d like to discuss landscaping the grounds of your Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Hershey, or Reading, PA church, then contact us for a free consultation. 

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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