Five Things to Consider When Updating Your Backyard
With a few tweaks, your outdoor spaces can become an extension of your home.
Having an outdoor space, whatever its size, has never been more important—in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we're spending more time than ever inside our homes, and since the safest form of socializing takes place outside, having a retreat you can enjoy solo, with your family, or with your quarantine pod makes life a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. But if your outdoor area lacks the comfort and amenities to make it a great place to get away, you might be considering a backyard remodel.
Whether you're considering a complete overhaul or a minor facelift, there are a few things to consider before you start planning your next outdoor project. Namely, you'll want to think about how you want to use the area, what it needs in order to feel enjoyable to you, and how soon you can realistically get started.
Get Expert Advice
If you're unsure where to start with your backyard remodel, consider calling in the pros. "Outdoor spaces are just as important as our indoor spaces," says Lauren Lerner, founder and designer at Living with Lolo Interior Design. With people spending more time at home, investing in their outdoor spaces is key to truly enjoying your home inside and out." She suggests working with a designer, because they'll have access to unique brands and products that you may not be able to find locally.
Choose Your Amenities
If you're looking to extend your indoor living spaces out into your yard, and you already have a designated area like a deck or a patio, you may only need to bring some of those indoor comforts outside. "Adding furniture and outdoor artwork is an easy way to update your yard without major construction," says Lerner. Additionally, she says hanging a wall mounted television (where appropriate) and adding a propane firepit are other ways to make your outdoor spaces more comfortable.
Think About Landscaping
If your yard is already pretty green, consider adding some color. Javier Martinez, president and creative director of AKUA, an event design, international event design, and production company, suggests the colorful Pink Cotton candy grass (also known as Muhly grass). It's known for its airy pink plumes, creating a whimsical (and deer-resistant) garden space that can become a great focal point (or secret garden feature for kids).
But in the event that you're really starting from scratch, contact a few local landscapers and discuss your vision. Find the pro that understands your wants and needs, then leave the hard work to them. Full backyard renovations can be expensive, so prioritize the details you care most about—a lush lawn, new hardscaping, or a row of privacy shrubs—first, then work on other projects over time.
Consider Natural Elements
Adding a water feature, like a pond or fountain, can greatly increase your outdoor enjoyment. The sounds from the flowing water can drown out ambient sounds from your neighbors and street traffic, according to Lerner. If you're thinking bigger when it comes to water amenities, think of adding a sauna or other aquatic fitness features like a swimming pool to your backyard remodeling plans.
Bring the Kitchen Outside
Creating defined outdoor rooms are key, according to Rosario Mannino, principal architect of RS Mannino Architecture and Design Build. "You want to think of your backyard just like you would the floor plan of your home: considering the flow of the space with furniture and a barbecue area," he says. Build yourself an outdoor kitchen area and make sure you never have to step away from the fun to run inside to grab your cooking essentials. He also suggests adding a pergola, which can help define the space while letting you take advantage of the open air.
Stream Your Music
If you're a music lover, adding an outdoor sound system can create a more personalized experience outdoors—without the hard work of a total backyard remodel. Lerner is a fan of the Sonos music system ($399, sonos.com), which you can connect to both your indoor and outdoor systems, creating a seamless musical presence.