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Outdoor Living & Recreation
Most homeowners and renters spend the majority of their decorating budget (and time) focusing on the inside of their home. But given how much of the day we now spend in our outdoor space, it’s time to turn our attention and resources to our front and backyards, our patios, decks and balconies.
The good news is that freshening up your landscaping doesn’t have to be a budget-killer and, quite often, it adds a lot to your home’s resale value.
To help, here are four inventive ideas for creating the perfect backyard (or front yard) spot for entertaining friends and family.
Quite often in urban settings, the biggest hurdle to enjoying your outdoor space is getting enough privacy. One easy way around this is to add plants and temporary structures that block curious onlookers. Tall shrubs, small trees and robust plants can be used along perimeters to establish separation and a bit of privacy. Boxwood shrubs, cypress trees and bamboo are other great options that tend to provide a thick, natural protective barrier and grow quickly, too.
Friends roast marshmallows, chat and laugh as they spend time relaxing by the backyard fire ring. A fire pit is a great way to enjoy your outdoor space and can often be used on warm and even cooler nights, weather permitting.
A fire pit or table is a great place to gather and spend time that, with a bit of foresight, can be used for a large portion of the year, weather permitting. Adding a fire pit can be as simple as purchasing and setting up a propane-fuelled fire ring, a more elaborate fire table or creating a fire pit complete with crushed stone (to prevent brush fires) and a natural fire ring (usually made of metal or stone). The more customized you get, the more expensive the cost, but it could be the best money spent on this space.
Water features can include fountains, ponds and even waterfalls. These features are a great way to bring a natural sense of calm and serenity to your outdoor space.
While the professional installation of a larger, more complex water feature is probably best, it’s quite possible to keep costs lower with a do-it-yourself project.
When planning the water feature, keep in mind the way water drains around your home. Try to tie the feature into this natural drainage, as it will help wick water away from your home and prevent any future foundation issues.
Virtually any outdoor space can be transformed into a dining area with the addition of weather-resistant furniture and decor.
If you want to get a lot more use out of your outdoor space, add a dedicated and well-stocked dining area. Going beyond the standard table and chairs, a dining area can be as elaborate as a fully stocked and serviced outdoor kitchen — with built-in ovens, in-line BBQs and running water — or a bit more simple with dedicated space for eating, separate from where you cook and display the food. Look around for gazebos and outdoor shelving that lets you keep cooking clutter under control and allows for elegant buffet-style food displays. Add in an outdoor, weather-resistant area rug and some edible planters (such as thyme, mint and rosemary), and your former patio table can be transformed into an elegant outdoor dining room.
Setting up an outdoor entertaining area doesn’t have to be expensive. Don’t forget to check out your junk closet for indoor items that you’re not using that could add a pop of colour and some much-needed function to your outdoor space. Good options include decorative urns, pots, large ceramic vases and even candle holders. An unused wood furniture piece is also a good option, just be sure to weatherize the item before leaving it outdoors.