Ah, the irony of having a backyard: Homeowners pine for a green patch of land to call their own, but once they've got it, they very rarely visit the place.
While outdoor living spaces topped the 2015 Home Design Trends survey by the American Institute of Architects, UCLA's " Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century" study showed that adults spent less than 15 minutes per week out in their yards (even kids log in just 40 minutes).
Perhaps the reason you aren't in your yard isn't due to laziness; it might merely be because you have nothing to do there. That's where an infusion of landscaping ideas could help.
"You need a legitimate reason to go out there," says Chad Bostick, a Huntsville, AL, landscape architect and member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. So before you start landscaping, take stock of how you like to spend your free time. If growing green things is your passion, then your yard should be filled with vegetable and flower gardens. If listening to lapping water soothes you, then a water feature is a must. If you can't take the sun, plant shade trees. If kicking a soccer ball around with your kids is your "together time," create a level lawn where you can play. Build a purpose into your yard and suddenly you'll be out there. All. The. Time.
Now that we've got that out of the way, here are some backyard landscaping ideas to consider.
Create an outdoor room…
If you're more of an "indoor type," never fear. Many of the things we once thought were possible only indoors can easily be brought to the open air thanks to the latest rage of creating " outdoor rooms." We're talking about spaces where you can enjoy the creature comforts of, say, your living room, only in your yard. So if you love to read, create a reading nook with a truly comfy couch and ample lighting for the evenings. If epicurean pursuits are your thing, keep reading.
… or an outdoor kitchen
Outdoor kitchens are the biggest thing since the McRib. And why not? No one wants to stay cooped up inside when everyone else is living it up in the great outdoors. And while having a whole kitchen might be overboard for many folks, more reasonable options might be just to have a minifridge and countertop next to your barbecue grill.
Fire up a fire pit
Yessssss. Who doesn't love the idea of sitting around a blazing fire pit, the (literally) hottest new addition to your yard? They're pretty easy to build yourself, and will extend your yard's hours by keeping the area lit and warm long after dark. Break out those marshmallows and ghost stories for a good time.
Add fountains, ponds, or other water features
If you're looking for the calming sound of running water, you can go small and install a solar-powered tabletop fountain in your garden or on your deck; or you can go all out and install a pond or pool. Remember, all water features must have either a pump, aerator, or wiggler to keep the surface moving to prevent mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects from breeding.
Grow some gardens
Gardens are a no-brainer in a backyard. But ponder what you really want before you start landscaping: Do you want a four-season garden that provides color year-round? Or a cutting garden that fills vases with brilliant blooms during summer and spring? Think hard about what you want to grow, then pick an area of your yard that will be its best home. Some perennials, such as the black-eyed Susan, crave six or more hours of sun a day, while hostas that spike blooms in midsummer are happy in shade. You can even build a butterfly garden that will attract these winged creatures.
Install stone patios or decks
A deck is the perfect place to survey your yard and kick back in it without even having to put on your shoes. Plus, a deck will generally net you a 75% return on investment when you decide to sell. If you go the stone patio route instead, just know that during the summer the stone can heat to pizza oven temps. So, think about where you're placing your patio or deck before deciding on what material you'll use. These days, porous pavers are popular on patios because they reduce runoff by allowing water to soak through, and keep the area cooler in summer.
Mature and well-maintained trees can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home. Also, placed correctly, trees can keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter, saving money on energy bills. Take time choosing trees. If fall foliage is your priority, select deciduous trees like sugar maples and sweetgums. If you want a windbreak, then plant evergreens like spruce. Silver maples make great shade trees. And saucer magnolias and weeping cherries make beautiful focal points in any yard.
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