A wonderland of possibilities By Joshua Nishimoto
When looking to spruce up your backyard, there are a plethora of options for anyone to make their yard stand out on any budget. First, consider what you have, consider what you want and then what you need. Be sure to include your budget and the time you have or want to spend on your backyard.
Don’t have a backyard theme? Does your backyard currently look like a sandlot? Consider seeding some green grass or even premiere synthetic grass if you don’t have a lot of time to put into taking care of your lawn. Also, consider making space for a small patio area or deck to place your furniture.
Adding a patio can be as easy and affordable as adding some pavers on the ground. They will take up some lawn space so you will have less lawn area to maintain. Whether you choose to have a deck or patio, know that both will take time and money to implement and maintain. A patio may have less maintenance and be less costly, but a deck will surely add more value to your home. Once you have decided on the spacing of your lawn with specifics as to what elements you would like to add (patio, deck, sandboxes, playsets, pools, ponds, etc.), you should select the appropriate type of grass that fits you and your space and go from there. If you go the traditional grass route, choosing the type of grass and the timing in which you plant the correct grass seed will greatly enhance your backyard.
The next likely step is to check out the type of soil that currently sits in your yard. You can test your soil and compare it with others, or bring a soil sample to your local nursery for professional advice. Once you have done this, be sure to prepare your soil. Use a sharp spade shovel to remove any existing grass (a sod cutter may get the job done faster). Once you’ve removed all your old grass, if any, remove rocks and debris using a rake and even out the soil surface. Whether you are resodding, planting grass in a specific area of your yard, or just doing some summer prepping, you’ll want to do this regardless. At this point, you may want to consider adding other elements like stone or brick pathways, or even levels to your yard if you are willing to put more work into creating them. The more you do in this area, the higher the cost, but it could be worth it to you. If you do decide to add a pool, pond or rock wall fountain to your yard, be sure to map out the area where you plan to install your water feature, and make sure the soil is moist for digging and zoning. Be sure to do your research and either prepare the foundations for these larger water features yourself or hire a contractor to prepare and install these for you.
Once your soil is prepped for grass, it’s time to seed your lawn. Be sure to seed and feed on the same day. If you have issues with weeds, look for turf-building solutions that will help prevent weeds like dandelions and crabgrass. Using these types of solutions will jumpstart your lawn and help it grow quickly. Be sure to water your lawn appropriately. The key is to keep the top inch of soil consistently hydrated, but not soggy. Check with your local nursery or home improvement store for more tips on lawn care.
Now that your lawn is taken care of, now it’s time to choose the correct type of plants and flowers that will work for you and your space. Hanging baskets and planters are an easy way to spruce up your backyard, thinking about the little things like where you would like to keep a small herb garden in a pot or a planter close to the kitchen window. When selecting specific plants and flowers, selecting appropriate colors that appeal to you and complement your space is important. Selecting annuals like million bells and petunias are great because they bloom all summer long. Planting these in the ground with a planter requires low maintenance, it’s not costly, and it is highly recommended by professionals. Another popular trend is hanging baskets. If you have an awning or some coverage over your back deck, hanging planter baskets can be a fresh way to add varying levels of color that either meet or carry the human eye. Hanging flower baskets like this is ideal if you work out a drip system. If you don’t have a drip system, and you aren’t keen on watering overhead, you may want to consider keeping your flowers on the ground or a deck. Hanging ferns can also have the same effect as hanging flowers. If hanging plants and ferns aren’t enough, hanging lights to brighten up your deck at night can add a whole level of atmosphere to your backyard. They are perfect for hosting. If you plan to hang bird feeders (including hummingbirds), it may be good to hang them a few feet away from your deck or patio. You can hang feeders almost anywhere using stakes, trees, or even off of your awning near your hanging plants.
When planning for the summer months, it may behoove you to consider adding some shade to cool you and your guests off. For natural shade, you may want to plant a small flowering tree like a maple or willow tree. These types of trees can grow quickly and not only provide ample shade but ambiance to your outdoor oasis.
Now comes the time to focus on your outdoor furnishings. If you have patio furniture, what condition is it in? If it’s old and outdated, consider buying new patio furniture. If you have patio furniture, you may consider simply moving it around for an updated look. If you don’t have any furniture at all, now might be the right time to consider purchasing your first set. Buying a new set of patio furniture can not only add new life to your backyard, but it can also make your guests comfortable if you choose to host. Depending on the colors and style of patio furniture that you choose, your new set of patio furniture can be an extension of your style and backyard theme, while keeping your guests comfortable. If you want to go for a more natural look, you might want to invest in some wood patio furniture at your local home improvement store. If you are on a budget, plastic patio furniture might be the way to go. You can also purchase wooden (or plastic) benches, picnic tables with hidden storage spaces for games, and outdoor couches or breakfast nooks. Have some time on your hands and fancy yourself a carpenter, try building your backyard furniture. The possibilities here are truly endless. You may also want to consider purchasing a sunshade, an umbrella for your picnic table or an outdoor patio/lounge, but know that you will most likely need to take these down during high winds and thunderstorms. You could use the purchased sunshade to cover some of your pool, pond, or even a more extravagant waterfall to not only keep these areas cool but to possibly keep some debris out of these areas. The sky is the limit.
There are hundreds of ways to improve your backyard space, whether that is adding a rock wall waterfall fountain to a simple placement of bird feeders and rearranging lawn and patio furniture; from the budget-friendly to the “lifestyles of the rich and famous.” Regardless of what you want and what you do to your backyard, you should plan out your projects and purchases to fit your budget and lifestyle.