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Expand your home outdoors

Spring is in the air! Finally!!!

Coming out of semi-hibernation for the past few months of an icy winter, my thoughts are about spending more time in the backyard again. If yours are too – then here are some ideas for making your backyard more usable this year:

Extend your space – Use the outdoor space to extend your family’s living space. Use  a defined space or elevation to set a room apart from the rest of the backyard. Let foliage, stone walls, deck railings or mature trees simulate walls. Once you create the concept of the room, add functional, practical  furniture – the type that makes you want to just plop yourself down and stay for the rest of the day. Gone are plastic chairs and picnic tables of splintering wood – replaced by comfortable outdoor sofas, easy chairs, and elegant dining sets. You and your family will want to stay outdoors all day. And to make it weather-proof, consider installing a retractable awning or a pergola. If space allows include an outdoor kitchen with barbecue. preparation counters and clean-up  sink.

Extend your day – The enjoyment in your new outdoor space can be prolonged when you install lighting in the backyard. The lighting – whether solar-based or wired should be subtle – installed under steps or in walls. Lighting should provide safety and a romantic mood for those nights when the moon is not full. Lighting can sometimes be incorporated into a water feature – which will add a zen-quality to the backyard. Running water is peaceful and soothing, especially in the evening air.

Extend your fun – Make your yard as low maintenance as possible so that you have more time to sit back and relax on that sofa. Low maintenance starts with your choice of materials for decking or flooring. However it should apply to all aspects of the backyard, including your choice of horticultural materials. Decorative stones or mulches in the garden will decrease time spent weeding and reduce the amount of water required for the plants. Ornamental grasses, slow-growing shrubs, and native plants will cut down on maintenance and the need for watering. Planting in pots will give patios a sense of color with less work than a full garden. Be environmentally conscious when choosing the materials and plants for your backyard. Select modern and minimalist building materials to create a zen atmosphere.

Consider your outdoor space as an integral part of your living space. Be modern, be creative, be innovative. Even the smallest of inner city gardens can afford a relaxing outdoor space for family and friends to relax and enjoy the zen of being outside.

What are your plans for your backyard this spring?



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