If you are fortunate enough to have your own backyard or any outside space, how much time and thought have you put into its design? So much focus is placed on the house and interior, and very often the outside takes second place.
However large or small, there are hundreds of ways to get more out of your exterior, so instead of thinking about the outside space as an area to be lawned and kept tidy, start looking at it as an extension of your home, more like an outside room that can add value and pleasure to your life.
Time and money – The extent of your plans will be down to the budget you are able to allocate, and the time you wish to devote to maintenance. There are improvement projects to fit all budgets, so your makeover needn’t be overly costly, but inevitably the more you want to do the more it will cost. Work out how much you can set aside for the works, so you have an idea of where you should prioritize. You might have a desire to make specific changes that are beyond your immediate means, in which case you could consider finance options. Have a look at a credit broker like Bonsai Finance for ideas on how to best obtain a loan at a reasonable rate. Home improvement loans are usually looked upon favorably, just make sure you don’t ask for more than you can cover every month.
Time is your other deciding factor, because if you only have a couple of hours every week to devote to your plot, you won’t want a lot of high maintenance borders. Be realistic, as it’s easy to get swept up into grandiose schemes when you’re looking at other projects for inspiration. It’s far better to go for a more modest design and keep it well-maintained than to have a space you struggle to keep up with.
Functionality – When you’re deciding on a redesign of your yard, think first of all about what you want to be able to do with it. If you like summer barbecues, then a spacious patio and outside furniture would be a priority. If you want somewhere to play ball with the kids then a well-shaped, level lawn with tough grass will be top of your list. Do you have pets, and if so will they be using the space? Planting spectacular flower beds will be a fruitless endeavor if your dogs go out and dig everything up the first time they’re let out. Do you want to include play equipment for the kids? If so, you need to decide what they would use and where it would be situated. It’s important to get all these requirements planned before looking at how you can optimize the rest of the space, as they will act as a framework for your design.
Indoors outdoors – If you would like more room in your house, but a remodel or extension is not an option for whatever reason, a solution might be to add a conservatory or an outside room to your yard. These options are usually cheaper than remodeling, as they are fairly straightforward erections rather than adaptations, which are always more expensive. Conservatories can be fixed to your exterior walls and needn’t involve too much demolition, depending on the configuration of your house and what you want to achieve. You could knock through the wall to give you an open plan living/dining area, or kitchen diner. Or you could add a simple lean-to design and use the space for relaxing. The options for conservatories are wide-ranging and cover many different styles, so ask several companies for a quote and see what they would advise. Garden rooms can be placed wherever you wish in the yard, being independent of the main house. They can be fully powered by heat and light, and plumbed as well if you want washing or toilet facilities. They can be used for many purposes including home office, playroom, gym, hobbies room or guest bedroom. Do make sure you have any permits or permissions require for your project before you begin – the contractor should be able to advise you on this.
Ponds and patios – A pond takes a lot of work to set up, but if you have a good pump to keep the water flowing, and oxygenating plants in the water, it should be relatively easy to look after once established. A pond with plenty of plants and flowers surrounding it will become a haven for wildlife, or you could have a fish pond. Watching fish swimming is a wonderful way to relax, but be aware that they will eat some of the wildlife that tries to populate the pond, so you may not have as diverse a natural fauna if you keep fish. Patios can be large to provide an entertainment space, or just a small deck with a couple of sun loungers on. Even if you don’t want or haven’t the room for a large patio, there are good reasons for having an area of hardstanding of some sort beyond the door.
Plants – You’ll need to get ideas for what to plant and how to care for your purchases, and there are plenty of inspirational and informative websites available that will give you a wide range of ideas for border designs and layouts. If you’re new to gardening, go for plants that are easy to care for and will give you year-round color and interest. Growing your own vegetables is a very rewarding and relaxing pastime, and healthy too. You can devote a section of the yard to your kitchen garden, or mix your vegetables into your borders, or you could use raised planters and pots in small spaces. Start with easy to grow veg like lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes; when you see how much fun you get out of growing them you’ll soon be hooked!
There are so many ways to make good use of your outdoor space, and there are ideas for every possible size and shape, so don’t waste your valuable space, make the most of it instead.