Your outdoor property could be a simple patch of grass… or, it could be a haven of comfort, relaxation, entertainment and hobbies! Just as your interior reflects elements of the life you want and thereby portrays a kind of “character”, your backyard can be designed for character (a combination of aesthetic and functional appeal). Here are a few ideas of ways you can give your yard more character for your—and your guests’—enjoyment.
Introduce New Plants
With materials as naturally beautiful and livening as plants and flowers, you can’t mess up a gorgeous garden. Plant life provides rich color and texture to your landscape. And, because plants are so diverse and vary so widely in color, size, shape and even growth, any mixture of plants offers a visually interesting aesthetic. If caring for greenery makes you nervous or feels like more work than you are willing to expend, look into your location’s local plant life! Native plants will thrive in your environment with little to no effort on your part. If, however, you are up for some TLC in your garden beds, get creative with the flowers and foliage at your disposal and design a garden that pops!
Add Water Features
Another natural element that can diversify your landscape is water. Simple and easy to manage, water features are a beautiful way to change up your yard or offer some calming visual aspect to your yard. Popular options for water features include small ponds (which you can fill with koi or other still water fish), fountains of any height, waterfalls, or small streams trenched through your landscape. Water features will almost definitely require the help of a professional contractor to install in ground water tanks or filters, but the end result is a gorgeous and relaxing feature that you and guests will love.
Use Decorative Rocks
Rocks offer another opportunity for color and texture in a landscape. Decorative rocks come in an endless variety of colors and patterns and, of course, can be cut or chipped to any size for various purposes! Use rocks to line your garden beds, keeping soil separate from your sod or lining any section of your yard in a design-conscious way! Boulders or cut stone can be used as pleasant and pretty sitting spots, or simply as a nice addition to your garden beds to change up the look. Stone gardens create a peaceful feel, and are popular especially in Asian landscape design. Best of all, a stone garden requires no watering or nourishing on your part, making it the most maintenance garden design around.
Think of Lawn Replacements
Change up the materials you use for the majority of your yard! Grass is the most common landscaping base, and is usually the first that comes to mind when one thinks of a “yard”… however, there are more options for your base than you may realize! Ornamental grasses are easy to maintain and will stick to the spots you plant them in, meaning no threat of them taking over your yard in places you don’t want them. Crawling plants and moss will spread and are much more difficult to control, but are also a soft and nice option for underfoot plant life. If green isn’t your dream, look into sand or gravel for your yard! There are many types of gravel that can take the place of your lawn. This mineral base allows for paths you can use in between your garden beds, stones, or whatever other features you choose.
Design Your Lighting
Use lighting as a way to add a mood to your yard, and make it accessible even after the sun has gone down. Get creative with the ways you use your lighting to offer enough light for whatever activities or socializing you intend to use your yard for. From average bulbs to creative lanterns, to “fairy lights” strung throughout or hanging above your yard, to fun tiki torches lining the perimeter or your paths, your lighting will help instill a mood of entertainment, recreation or leisure.
Install a Deck
Consider putting a deck in for your porch area! No better place to relax and enjoy your outdoor property than on a well-designed deck area on which you can create a comfortable sitting space. Pick patio furniture that both creates an intentional, designed feel, and offers that comfort you want. Give it shade for bright and sunny days with a pergola or shade screen, give it a good breeze for the more stifling days, throw in a heater for when it’s a bit chillier than can be enjoyed, but you still want the fresh air and peace from outside. Make it your transition space between inside and out, and reap all the benefits of natural space with the added amenities of a great resting area!
Change Up the Gradient
While there is plenty you can do with a flat landscape, a landscape with pitches and curves, hills, any variation in gradient offers a very different, new way to design your backyard! Putting some hills or raised garden beds will turn your otherwise ordinary landscape into an even more “natural”, unique, and interesting space. You can then follow those natural rises and falls in the landscape to guide the rest of your designing, filling in spaces or using the gradients to determine what gets the focus of your landscaping.
Other Creative Additions
Your options for landscaping additions and features are not limited to those things that already exist in nature—water, plant life, rocks, etc. Consider what hobbies you have, and use those to figure out fun additions to your backyard! A sports court for the athlete, a fire pit for the outdoorsy, a pool for family fun or a hot tub for relaxation, or some outdoor cooking appliances for the chef—whatever it is that gets you excited to be outside.
Make your yard a place you will truly love to spend time in. Any or all of these features will add the character your landscape needs to feel like your home-outside-of-home!
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