Installing a hot tub in your backyard is just the first step in creating the perfect outdoor sanctuary. You need to add elements such as a seating area, a barbeque area, plants, and water features to make the space feel comfortable and functional. But how do you put all these elements together in a way that works? Creativity and the willingness to take a few risks are key, but there are also a number of tools, tips, and resources available online to help you. Easy Garden Planner If you have no idea what you’d like to have in your outdoor living space, the gardening experts at Better Homes & Gardens have just the tool for you. The Easy Garden Planner lets you create custom garden shapes and drag-and-drop a number of outdoor features and foliage. The Easy Garden Planner isn’t just gardens, either. It also includes fences, decks, ponds, hot tubs and other structures you can add, move, remove, and resize at will. What’s really nice about this app is that you don’t have to design and print it all in one go. Register on the site, and you can save, print, and edit them whenever you like. Would you like a more realistic, soil-level view? Try Garden Puzzle. Rebel Tomato Never grown a garden before? Want to make the space around your hot tub useful as well as pretty? Need to read up on the basics? Head over to the Rebel Tomato. This site includes all the information you need to get your garden started. You can learn how to pick the right spot for your vegetables, how to keep your plants healthy, and learn how to harvest them all. What makes this site particularly great is the lack of big words and complex topics. It starts simple, stays simple, and never forces you to take on more than you’re willing to handle. It’s a fantastic introduction into the world of gardening. (If you’re looking for a quick review of the facts and some more complex topics, try Landscape Texas.) HGTV Just because you have a hot tub, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a water feature. HGTV has a huge section of photographs, tips, and how-tos to help you create the water feature of your dreams. Want some more ideas? HGTV also has a great section on gardening, outdoor living spaces, decks, and yes, hot tubs to get you well on your way. You can get help from their amazing community, and even submit photos of your yard for others to rate and comment on. The Landscaping Checklist Some people think the easiest solution is to head to the nearest garden center and ask for help. Of course, you can do this, but you’ll need to know exactly what you’ve got and what you’d like to have, before you can start planning your landscaping. Apprize.ca has a brilliant landscaping checklist (PDF download) that walks you through each area and feature you need to think about. Hand this to your garden or landscaping expert, and you’ll find planning your outdoor space quick and easy. Social Gardening Sometimes, the best way to learn how to do something is to get help from people who already have experience. If the space you’re working with already has plants in it, but you’re not sure what they are or what to do with them, try My Plant ID. Want to keep track of what you’ve planted and what you’e done in your garden? Start your own Green Thumb Journal. Just want to talk carrots, chrysanthemums, and composting? Try the Helpful Gardener forum. Gardening and landscaping can be a bit scary if you’ve never done it before, but there are tons of resources and tools out there to help you. You may even want to get a few friends together and take turns working on each other’s gardens. The most important thing is that you have fun with it and enjoy the results.