Tips for Revamping Your Backyard
Whether you’ve just moved into your first home or have finally settled into your last, it’s never a bad time to add a little panache to your backyard. Even the most immaculately decorated interior is incomplete without an equally beautiful counterpoint outside; however, re-thinking your landscaping need not be a Herculean task, nor an expensive one. Here are but a few ways of giving your backyard a facelift in ways that can fit any schedule or budget:
Deck out your landscape
Adding on a wooden deck may seem like a daunting task to the uninitiated, but anyone with patience and basic shop class carpentry skills can most likely hammer together a simple backyard patio. If you still really don’t feel up to the challenge, a deck is one of the most inexpensive fix-up jobs that contractors will do. However you approach it, a deck extends both the practical space of your home and the “psychic space” as well– a well-decorated patio is a guarantee for a lighter, less cramped atmosphere.
The flavor of your deck will be in large part dictated by the wood you choose. Your budget may set the parameters: softwoods, such as pine, are affordable, but if it’s within your means, teak is as gorgeous as it is resistant to nature’s elements. If you happen to be in an at-risk bushfire zone, flame-resistant hardwoods are a prudent option.
Once you’ve installed your deck, don’t forget that maintenance is almost as important as the construction. An oiled finish is the perfect finishing touch, and should be revamped at least every six months.
If building a wooden deck seems like a logistical nightmare, flagstone patios and pathways are an even easier way to maximize your backyard (and even narrow side property). Because part of the charm of a flagstone patio is its organic jaggedness, you don’t need to be an engineering whiz to create the loose, jigsaw aesthetic that comes with flagstone.
For an even more “Secret Garden” allure, seed the open spaces between the stones with easy-to-grow, hardy vegetation such as clover. For areas where it seems like a lawn was not meant to be, the flagstone and wild plant combo is a perfect “comb-over”—and at under $20 per square foot installed, it’s easy on your pocketbook as well.
Gardening—Guerilla and Otherwise
While the kind of garden you create ultimately depends on your level of commitment, you don’t need a green thumb to create a lush ambience in your backyard. True enough, a fully-realized vegetable garden takes planning, knowledge and inevitable trial and error; however, the joy of eating a green salad from your own soil is unlike any other and is worth all the work.
For those with less patience, there are numerous shortcuts to having the wild and free aura of a garden– minus the actual gardening. Plants, such as basil and chervil, for example, are not only multi-purpose staples for salads and seasoning, but once planted, it may seem like the only challenge is to stop them from growing. Another easy to maintain, easy-on-the-eyes plant is the flowering cabbage. Though it’s technically edible, its richly variegated purple-to-green hues instantly add dimension to your landscape’s palette.
Especially if you’ve opted for the sprawling, informal style of an English garden, a wonderful cornerstone is a garden water fountain. They are easier to install than you might think, and from their appearance to their tranquilizing trickle-flow, turn a yard into a sanctuary.
Throw some shade
Especially if you live in perpetually sunny climates or a place with unforgiving summers, some kind of shade structure is necessary for a hospitable feeling. Of course, the most organic solution is the use of deciduous trees, but this option either takes time or money—or both, as even growing a tree from a seedling may take preventative maintenance over the years.
Gazebos are a charming addition as well, but these too can be costly. A more flexible option is a pergola with a movable roof that can accommodate changes in season or light. Even more on-the-fly are garden tents and patio umbrellas, which can be easily be readjusted in accordance with the whims of nature.
If there is one secret to creating a beautiful backyard, it’s to view it as an ever-evolving work in progress that will grow in richness and complexity over the years. Furthermore, be sure to work with the lay of the land, rather than against it. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer, mom of three and owns a pretty large property herself in Southern California. She is currently in the process of remodeling her home, and plans to revamp her own backyard into something her entire family can enjoy. Follow her on Pinterest for more DIY home improvement ideas!