Back Yard Bliss

backyard  e
mschiffm / Pixabay

After a long cold snowy winter, we are all ready to head out doors and enjoy our yards.  Typically, lawn furniture is stowed away and dusted off and placed on the deck.  Joined by a small number of candles and a few side tables and the yard is ready for the entire season.

This year imagine what your ideal back yard would look like. Create a wonderful backyard oasis following these few tips.

Think in terms of how you want to use the deck space.  It could be for entertaining family and friends by hosting BBQs and intimate parties. Or you may enjoy a lounging area complete with a heat source for those cool summer evenings.  Perhaps you want to focus on a hot tub area and create more of a private enclosure.

Once the vision has been determined and the area of focus has been narrowed down it’s time to create a list of what is required, in order to achieve the look you want.  If you are struggling with a vision, be inspired by flipping thru decorating magazines, or walk thru a local home and garden tour to get ideas. You may also recall a commercial patio setting that you have experienced and enjoyed as another source of inspiration.

Decorating an out door space is very similar to what you would do inside the home.  For an eating or lounging area, start with the furniture. You need durable, practical furniture that is made to withstand the harsh sun and cool temperatures.  It must be easy to maintain and have a timeless appeal as outdoor furniture can cost just as much indoor! Also be honest with yourself and think about how much maintenance and upkeep you are prepared to put forth.

Outdoor furniture is a large investment and like anything for the home, it takes a bit of time and research to find a suitable product. Wood, wicker, fabric, aluminum, wrought iron and steel are all very common for outdoor furnishings.  To a highlight a few of the more popular choices lets start with wood. Teak is a beautiful wood impervious to water, mildew and wood eating insects.  The cost reflects that but if treated with minimal maintenance teak can last a lifetime. Resin wicker or all weather wicker as it is commonly referred to, is made to look like wicker but is a synthetic that is resistant to the suns UV rays as well as humidity and water. The frame is made of aluminum which keeps the furniture lightweight. Fabric furniture such as hammocks and cloth chairs are the least durable as the elements break down the fibres over time as well as the colors fade. Wrought Iron furniture has a much defined style but very few companies that produce garden furniture actually make real wrought iron. Due to the cost, the fact the wrought iron is heavy to move and paint chips easily it’s much less popular thanks to resin wicker.

Great places to look for all different styles of patio furniture  are the big hardware stores located thru out the city, Costco, BBQ supply stores, Garden centres and of course Home Sense and Pier 1.

Once the style and color of furniture has been determined its time for the fun stuff, the details that create the space.  Select an out door rug the fits under the table and chairs.  If the rug is for the lounging area make sure it’s large enough to group the furniture together.  If a rug does not appeal to you, then try painting the deck with a faux rug or stencil a pattern in the center to create visual interest.  Add a few outdoor accent cushions in a bright summery print and tie the colors in with an umbrella for the eating area.

Lighting is important in a backyard and you can do it a very cost effective way.  Solar panel lights that easily insert into the ground are an effective way to evenly distribute light in a yard. Another alternative is oil torch lamps, or lanterns mounted on a fence hat illuminate certain areas.  Hurricane vases with a real candles or battery operated for less maintenance are nice for the dinning area, as we all look way better in candle light!

If sitting around the fire with family and friends in the backyard is appealing you may be wondering what the options and costs are. The first thing to research is what the city Bylaws are with respect to self contained fires as there are many codes in place for safety and to ensure that you are being a considerate neighbour!   The typical fire pit can sit on the ground with raised walls that secure the logs or be sunk into the ground.  Not much is requited in terms of materials making this a cost effective option and something you could do yourself on a weekend. An alternative is a portable fire pit. They are made out of metal and can be wood or gas burning.  Since they are portable, they can moved around the yard easily and are fairly inexpensive.

Conversely, a built in fireplace along a wall with a chimney, and brick or stone can run you a few thousand to upwards of ten thousand for a custom unit.

Privacy is a concern for a lot of homeowners in Calgary.  It’s nice to sit on the deck in the evening and watch your neighbour’s television from a far.  If that sounds less then appealing there are ways to create privacy in a backyard that is surrounded by eyes.  Landscaping is the typical line of attack but aside from planting huge trees try adding a pergola.  It’s a free standing structure with vertical posts and rafters across the top. Typically they are made of wood such as cedar which ages beautifully.  Another alternative is to add a trellis which is made of latticework which can support plants.  Once the plants fill in it will provide a stylish barrier.  Awnings that are retractable also provide privacy and shelter from the sun. If all else fails, build a high fence within city bylaws of course and position your furniture so that your around a focal point and not the neighbours’ window.

The final touch in any yard is flowers and a few pieces of sculpture, maybe some pottery vases or a small water feature. Personalize your outdoor living space just like you would indoors by adding a few things every year and fine tuning it until your happy with the outcome.

Article by Adene Lucas


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