Guest Blogger #486, Entry #1122, April 24, 2012
You might not have the worst yard in the neighborhood, but if you have yet to add anything more than the sod and the single tree that came with the house then perhaps it’s high time you thought about doing a makeover. It’s not all about aesthetic appeal, either; by making your space more usable, turning it into an outdoor extension of your home, you can virtually increase your square footing and create a more desirable property (an especially advantageous strategy for anyone thinking of selling in the near future). So here are just a few tips for anyone looking to upgrade their outdoor space and make the most of every square foot of property.
Image via: Bhg
Assess your backyard
A good place to start is by assessing what you’ve already got. If the lawn and the existing foundation (trees, shrubbery, etc.) are in good shape, if a little boring, then you probably don’t need to replace them; just give them a good trim (you might have to hire a service if you have tall trees, and you should probably do so once every year or two). Anything dead should be removed post haste (down to the roots) since it could pose a significant hazard in the case of a fire or storm, for example. And if there are dead spots on the law, either re-seed the area or simply get a few cuts of sod if you don’t want to wait for new growth.
Now that everything is ship shape it’s time to get down to the real work of landscaping, and the first order of business is to create a plan. You can find all kinds of templates and inspiration online, but all you really need to do is measure your yard so that you can draw a scale schematic. From there you can figure out where you want to place planters (or islands), decking, a patio, a water feature, pavers, or other items. This will help you to determine the best layout for your exterior space before you ever put shovel to soil.
Outdoor room and entertaining ideas
When it comes to what you will include in your outdoor room, you need to consider the intended usage as well as your environment. For example, you probably want to have barbeques or other types of gatherings. So you should think about creating an eating area complete with a paved patio or decking of some sort, a grilling area, and enough space for a table and chairs to accommodate your family and friends. You may also want to build out a covered structure of some kind. There are a couple of reasons why this is a good idea. For one thing, it will give you shade in the summer (sure you could sit under a tree, but then stuff will be falling in your food). However, if you live in a colder climate, a covered structure can also help to protect your lawn furniture from the elements (so you don’t have to bother stacking it in the garage all winter long).
As for plants, the real décor of your outdoor space, you best bet is to talk to a landscaper or simply visit an expert at your local nursery. These professionals can give you the 4-1-1 on everything from annuals and perennials, to drought-resistant species, to creating a floral diorama and layers of color in your space. And once you’ve got everything installed, you just need to look at the shears, sprinklers, and John Deere riding lawn mowers that will help you maintain your beautiful new backyard.
For more outdoor ideas on Stagetecture, click here.