Summer is upon us. When you look out at your backyard, are you seeing a yard that is welcoming you to come out and enjoy it? Or is it calling out for help? It may be time for a spruce up for your backyard. Here are some suggestions that will have a high impact but which are mostly DIY projects.
1. Clean up
Get the whole family together to help with this project. Put away the tools and equipment that never got back into the garage or shed. Bag any trash that may have been blown into the yard during the winter. Remove anything that is broken or unused. Be ruthless. Now you can start with a clean slate.
If your fence is in disrepair, consider whether you still need a fenced yard. Maybe the fence was installed to give the toddlers a safe place to play, but your toddlers are now teenagers. If you want to keep the yard fenced, decide if the current fence is repairable or if it needs to be replaced. Does the fence need painting or staining? (Remember that there are two sides to your fence, and the neighbor’s side may look worse than your side!)
If you need to replace your fence or you don’t currently have a fence but want one, put this on your list of to-do projects. You will want to get some estimates on having fencing installed. This can be a DIY project, but it is very labor intensive and needs some expertise, especially if your yard is not level.
3. Patio or deck
A wood deck needs to be freshly stain every few years, depending on its location and use. Is it time to spruce up your deck? What about the furniture? You might not need to replace the furniture, but your deck can have a whole new look just by changing the cushions. Consider purchasing some large decorative pots and plant colorful flowers to help make your deck more inviting.
If your patio is constructed with pavers, are there weeds starting to grow between them? The pavers should be lying flat and forming an even surface to walk on. If you have low or high areas in your patio, those pavers need to be lifted and the bed they lie on adjusted before the paver is replaced.
Is your deck or patio large enough? If you and your family like to entertain friends, it might be time to consider enlarging the patio or deck. Have you considered adding a hot tub or spa on your patio or deck? How relaxing it would be to sit in your spa and let the water soothe tired muscles and take away the stress of the day!
Most people want a lawn area in their backyard. How big an area depends on how you use your yard. If your family enjoys playing badminton or bocce ball, you may want to dedicate a larger space for the lawn. Your lawn will look significantly better if you feed it. If you have more weeds in your lawn than grass, you might want to use a feed-and-weed-type product. With one application, you kill the unwanted weeds and feed the grass also. If you have children or pets, there are organic products that are safe for both.
This is the time to get realistic. Do you have a vegetable garden that you are all excited to plant in the spring, and you are determined to eat fresh vegetables all summer? That is possible if you have the time and the desire to keep the garden weeded, watered, and maintained. But, if by August every year you have a garden with weeds the size of a tree and a few small tomatoes clinging to the vine, it might be time to re-evaluate.
It is stressful to see a major work project every time you look out or use your backyard. Your backyard should be your retreat where you can relax and recharge. Either cut the size down to a more manageable space or give up the garden and become acquainted with the farmer’s market in your town. Maybe you could use some of the decorative pots you buy for your patio and plant herbs or a cherry tomato plant.
6. Flower Gardens
This is also a part of your yard that you need to take a realistic look at. If gardening and working with your flowers gives you peace and you enjoy it, perfect! Carry on! But, if gardening is a chore and you resent the time it takes, then you need to re-evaluate your garden beds.
Take a look at your backyard design. Perhaps you should consider planting trees and shrubs that flower but require little maintenance. Plant some crab apple trees, or azaleas and rhododendrons. Use evergreens and shrubs with colorful or unusual bark for year-round interest.
If you still want flowers, concentrate on perennials that come up year after year, so you don’t have to replant. Most perennials take very little care beside occasional deadheading and dividing if they become too large for their space.
Put annuals in containers or group them in small areas for seasonal long-lasting color but also easy care. These backyard landscape ideas allow you to have an attractive backyard, but they are still realistic about the time you want to spend maintaining it.
If you have a garden shed, could it use a coat of paint? Check over the kid’s playset and make sure it is in good repair and ready for a season of frequent use.
Now that you have your yard in shape, maybe this is the year you finally put in the pool that you have always wanted. Turn your backyard into the family oasis you envision. Virtually any yard can fit a backyard above-ground pool. They come in all sizes, from very small plunge pools to large family pools. An above-ground pool will give you and your family years of fun and can become the best feature of your backyard.
Sit down with your family and talk about your backyard. Let each person say what they like the best and the least, and then what they want for the backyard. Use this information to develop your backyard design, and you will end up with the backyard landscape everyone will enjoy for years to come.