Special to Yahoo Homes
You should approach an outdoor project much as you would an indoor one: Have a strategy. Determine where you want the focal point to be and lay out your desired boundaries. Once you’ve done the groundwork in scoping out your outdoor space, you can begin detailing the space by adding enhancements. Here are 12 ways you can enhance your outdoor space to further enrich your home life.
1. Porches and Decks
If you’re fortunate enough to have a front porch, don’t let this space go to waste. Add a pair of rocking chairs or swinging bench, along with some beautiful potted flowers for a splash of color.
If you spend more time in the backyard, building out a deck is a great option. Dependent on the size of your yard, you can create a small and humble deck, leaving room to roam, or one that expands a vast amount of the yard. There are a variety of finishes to consider, from stain to painted, as well as shapes and materials. Decks can be built out by a professional, or you can DIY a deck using recycled pallets or salvaged stones.
2. Gazebos and Cabanas
If you love to entertain, building a gazebo or cabana will definitely earn you big points with your guests. You can build a gazebo as an extension to your deck for some shelter from the sun and rain, or create a paved walkway leading from your deck out to a free-standing gazebo. A cabana is something that you can easily DIY with some PVC pipe or wood and drape fabric over the top to create a shaded shelter.
3. Garden and Potted Plants
A garden is much about its beauty as it is about its bounty. Grow a garden of flowers, plants, vegetables or fruits that you can overlook from your deck area, or add potted plants in and around your deck for natural color. If you don’t have a deck and your garden is the main focal point of your yard, then create a patch of gravel nearby where you can place a bistro table and chair to sit and take in the beauty of your garden. Don’t forget to include plants such as lemon balm, citronella, peppermint, marigolds and lavender to repel insects from biting you and your guests while you enjoy your outdoor space.
4. Trellis and Arbors
Complement your beautifully manicured garden with an attractive trellis, or create a spot of shade with an arbor. Either can be made from wood or metal. There are a variety of climbing vines and plants to grow on your trellis or arbor, including morning glory, wisteria, ivy, sweet pea and honeysuckle. You can also add a trellis of climbing plants to your front walkway as a welcoming archway for visitors.
5. Sprawling Trees
Planting trees are an easy and practical way to enhance your outdoor space. Trees can live for quite a long time and lend personality to your home. Trees can also provide shade during warmer months, and establish boundaries and privacy more attractively than fences do. When selecting your trees to plant, be sure to pick ones that are suitable to your climate, and plant them strategically away from the home for when they are full grown. Go for a fruit-bearing tree to enjoy all the function of trees with a delicious bonus.
6. Tree House or Club House
Give your kids a reason to get outdoors and away from their electronic devices by building them an outdoor playhouse. Either purchase a prefabricated outdoor playhouse, or get inventive and build a tree house. Build your tree house at ground level around a tree, or a more traditional style that they can climb up into. The sky’s the limit with options for material, shapes, colors and accessories, such as a tire swing.
7. Lush Lawn and Lawn Alternative
If you take care of your lawn, it will take care of you and your family fun. You won’t have to go far to have fun with family and friends. Enjoy a variety of lawn games or simply park a blanket for a picnic in your own backyard. If you are in a location with drought problems, you might try looking into lawn alternatives such as ground coverings that are native to your region, a gravel and rock landscape, or even synthetic grass.
8. Fire Pits and Fireplaces
An outdoor fire pit or fireplace can be the perfect complement to entertaining your family and friends into the evening. You can consider building one out as an extension of your deck, or purchase a portable one that requires no heavy installation. There are options also for wood or gas with fire glass. Make sure to check for any regulations in your area regarding outdoor fires, and be sure to place in a safe area.
9. Water Features
Add some zen to your outdoor space with a water feature such as a pond, fountain or bird bath. Think how soothing it would be to relax out on your deck next to the sound babbling water. You can purchase a traditional stone bird bath, or refurbish items to transform into a bird bath. If you go with a pond, think about the flora you want to grow in it, such as aqua lily pads, as well as add life to the pond with beautiful koi fish.
Don’t let the setting sun dampen your family’s outdoor fun. By lighting up the backyard, you’ll have enjoyment through the night. Use solar ground lights to line your lawn and walkways. Install lantern fixtures on the exterior walls. Get creative and festive with large string light bulbs to add to the starry night.
11. Stepping Stones and Paved Walkways
Accent your beautifully manicured lawn and garden with a walkway or stepping stones. If you’ve got different focal points in your yard, connect them into one cohesive landscape with stepping stones. You can either purchase some paver stones, or use salvaged material to give your walkway a rustic and natural effect.
What’s a beautiful outdoor space if you can't sit and enjoy it? If you have installed a deck, patio furniture will bring it to life. Don’t forget a canopy shade so that you can enjoy your deck when the sun is high and hot. Add decorative benches or Adirondack chairs around your garden, or string a relaxing hammock between two trees. Accent your furniture with bold pops of color, such as throw pillows.
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