In the spirit of the
growing season, we
offer this special home
and garden section
with tips and suggestions on how to bring
your personal outdoor
space to full flower.
• Don’t skimp on space.
Estimate the area needed
for a new outdoor room that
includes all the amenities:
a dining area, a grill, built-in
seating and potted plants.
• Consider the effect of
insects, sun and humidity.
For instance, if you live in
an area with consistent,
hot sunshine, a pergola or
gazebo ensures the outdoor
room can be used any
time of day.
• Creative use of fences,
structures and plants adds
personality and privacy to
your outdoor area.
• Add seating by seeing
the possibilities in unconventional places or things,
such as walls, railings,
steps and cushions.
• Attach small lamps
to walls and furniture, in
addition to traditional
• Add weatherproof
artwork, storage units,
linens, a gurgling fountain
or colorful cushions to get
your space ready for outdoor living.
• Try a mix of potted
plants, such as calla lilies,
begonias and impatiens, to
infuse the space with color.
• Set out comfortable
armchairs in which to enjoy
your morning coffee, a table
and chairs for alfresco
dining, a chaise lounge for
soaking up sun.—WF
Create a backyard sanctuary that’s
lovely to enjoy, easy to maintain
By Will Fifield making it more of a haven. Jones says these
DURING THIS TIME of year, some people practi- improvements, if done well, generally increase the
cally move outdoors. Their backyards become living value of a home.
rooms. And dining rooms. And kitchens. And … Regardless of the environment you’d like to cre-
well, you get the idea. However, landscaping your ate, you should carefully assess your skills and con-
outdoor space so that you can spend time enjoying it sider the labor involved in landscaping before
instead of maintaining it can be complex. The trick jumping into projects by yourself. If you think you
lies in choosing plants, structures and features that need help creating the kind of outdoor space you
create an inviting environment that demands no envision, be sure to hire the right kind of help.
more work than you are willing to supply. Landscaping professionals are generally divided into
If you want to spend less time mowing your three groups: landscape architects, landscape
lawn, consider reducing your lawn size by increasing designers and landscape contractors.
its borders with plants—plants that require no spe- Landscape architects, like building architects,
cial knowledge and that thrive under most weather are usually well-trained planning experts. Because
conditions in your region. An arbor is another pop- of their expertise, architects tend to be the most
ular low-maintenance idea, and if it includes trel- expensive of landscaping pros.
lises and climbing structures it can complement Landscape designers do much of the same work
other botanical themes in your yard. as landscape architects, but usually have less training
According to Doug Jones (
www.jonesland and are often more plant oriented. Landscape con-
scapinginc.com), a Costco member and landscape tractors perform, or hire out, the actual work. Be sure
contractor in Ravensdale, Washington, many home- to ask for samples of any materials the contractor will
owners are opting for easy-to-maintain fountains or supply to ensure that they’re what you have in mind.
ponds. “The relaxing sounds of running water are a Whether you decide to handle all aspects of
big draw for people,” Jones says. your landscaping yourself, hire a pro for some of it
Many of his clients incorporate decks, rockeries or hire professionals for the entire job, making the
and other forms of hardscape, such as brick paths, most of your great outdoors is an investment that
decorative block retaining walls and water features, will yield rich returns. You’ll add charming dimen-
to diminish the maintenance of their property while sion to your home and increase its value. C