The most beautiful gardens usually have little to do with size and much to do with how it makes you feel when you’re in them. I love my garden because it is perfect for me and fills my purpose, which is the key to any space. If I enjoy being in it, I am going to love it therefore spend more time in it, too much, as far as my patient husband is concerned. Backyards have to be seen as an extra living space outside your home, it doesn’t matter the square footage, take advantage of it to fill your specific needs. In my garden I have tried to create a retreat to get away from things, a place to have my tea to start my day, where I can go to meditate, read and spend time with loved ones with the beautiful backdrop of foliage that appeals to me both visually and functionally.
Functionally, I love low maintenance; there are lots of plants that require minimal work as long as they are placed in areas of the garden to let them flourish. My husband loves to cook, so we make sure we make space for herbs, which usually do best in pots and containers. Keep most blooming perennials and annuals in the sun and save the shadier area for trees, ivies, mosses, bushes etc. but always refer to you trusty plant almanac for the region you live in. I like strategically using trees for both the privacy they create and the shade they provide, so when planting keep location in mind. Physically step out into you space and stand in those few areas you will spend the majority of your time. Look to see where neighbours windows are and the height a tree or privacy screen would have to be. Also make sure you are out at the time(s) of day you would be enjoying that particular area of the garden that needs shade, see where the position of the sun is and again where a tree, shade or umbrella would have to be situated. By doing this, you are efficiently making best use of your space by laying it properly and will ultimately use it more. I know I was rarely using my backyard before I strategically placed a few mature trees, screens, an awning, an umbrella and a small pergola. Now I can’t wait to be out there whenever I can, because now it fits my needs practically.
Visually, I love the pops of colour (I am partial to purple), variations in leafs and shrubs with delicate flowers. Layer your plants and flowers with the tallest at the back, gradually making your way to the ground cover that is closest to you. This step system to gardening ensures you can see everything when it is in bloom. I love to garden, so for me it is all about varieties; I can’t wait to head out to my local nursery to see the latest plants, trends and colours. Actually, even before that, in late winter-early spring, I checked out my Gardener’s Idea Book from Proven Winners, one of the best in plant growers. I can see the colour trends, beautiful “new plants of the year” coming out that I will have to make room for like their perennial the stunning dark leaved Primo Black Pearl Heuchera, the beautiful, early blooming Spilled Wine Weigela and my favourite, the annual of the year the Supertunia Bordeaux Petunia and it’s purple!
Yes, I love my plants, primarily for their natural beauty, but on another level what gardening means to me; it is a connection to nature that I had as a child where I spent every moment outdoors exploring. It reminds me of my mother and the love and attention she put into her gardens in South America. Gardening brings me such because I can’t think of anything else while doing it, I could start in the morning and hours can easily pass unnoticed before being called in for dinner. It is amazing how you can get lost in what you love and are passionate about, that is when you know have found something that is purposeful to you and cannot be measure by square feet. Get out and make your gardens beautiful.
With expanding urban areas creating less accessible green space, the booming housing markets producing the reality of more condos and smaller property lot sizes with little to no backyards, and more people trending towards “stay-cations” instead of travelling looking for interesting and cost effective things to do closer to home. This is where the need for a natural environment like our backyards has become an invaluable addition to our homes.
The key to making the most of your space, no matter the size, is customizing it to your needs and comforts. Think about what you take pleasure in doing outside and even inside, as you try to bring all those comforts to the outdoor space. Think of it as an extension of your home, a new functional room that is going to serve its purpose of entertaining, cooking and relaxing. The key is using quality products to ensure low maintenance and planning your needs in making the space enjoyable.
When looking into creating my own backyard space, for example, I decided what my priorities were. I wanted to have a low maintenance area where I can dine comfortably with family and friends; a walk out deck from my patio door, a cozy lounge area to relax, a place to cook and an abundance of reminders of the fundamental beauty of nature.
After laying out your space, start with the foundation which is your patio pavers and decking. Again when in doubt go with high quality and low maintenance. Use thick stone with a good drainage base and polymeric sand to fill in the gaps which will prevent shifting and unsightly weed growth. When it comes to decking I love the polymer decking materials that will last for decades with resistance to fading, mold, scratches and no sealing required.
I believe in having a functional outdoor cooking area because that means we get to spent more time together with family and friends instead of prepping meals inside. The configured outdoor island kitchens are so versatile, you can choose the size and pieces you want like BBQ, sinks, fridges, storage, side grills, smokers, etc to customize your kitchen. Just like indoors, choose a suitable counter surface, one that can handle the outdoors with protection from UV, scratches, stain, fire, ice and that is nonporous.
Next is seating, calculate how much you need and its purpose. You may need dining areas, lounging areas and/or a quite space for yourself, as well as having seating that can be easily moved around the space as needed. An important item to consider is shade for the sun whether it is an awning, umbrella, pergola...there are many options but looking into adaptable products like rotating cantilever umbrellas, retractable awnings, pavilion tenting and movable screens would be best.
Finally, incorporate those that bring you peace, serenity and calm while heightening your senses like the sound of flowing water with an outdoor water feature, a great sound system to set any mood, a crackling fire pit, artwork, accessories and of course flowers and plants whether real, artificial, potted or planted. Make your outdoor area a reflection of you and what you love, creating your own personal ultimate backyard living space.
Most of us grew up in a monochromatic home; the walls were painted neutral shades because that is what may have been trendy or acceptable and I’m sure it was great for resale value. Girl’s rooms may have been the traditional pink and the boys perhaps a blue hue which in the past may have been deemed “acceptable”. Today as we look to nurture a child’s imagination and empower them to be inspired individuals with their own unique personality, we have to let them have creative autonomy of the space they use the most.
Now of course the control of the room’s look is within reason, it should be age appropriate, meet their needs and still be clean to certain extent, but though the young tenants don’t pay a dime, they should have the biggest sway in the area that ultimately influences them most.
I am a huge believer in a space helping empower and motivate your feelings. If the child’s room is inspirational to their specific dreams and likes, then that is what they will focus on. In the short term, it will give them a sense of accomplishment and ownership which may have them actually taking responsibility of their space and long term it will instill confidence, self-fulfillment and pride in what they had a hand in creating. Not to mention they will remember how cool their parents were to let them have free reign on their living environment.
With the arrival of spring comes the renewed sense revitalization, a fresh start to a new season in life and a chance for us to make those changes that can help us grow physically, mentally and spiritually. This can apply to all we put our minds to, doing things with a purpose and with positive intentions.
The master bathroom is one of the main hubs of the home and adds value to any home if updated to included a large shower, corner tub, double sink vanity with garnite countertop and closet space adjacent to the bathroom. Here are some before and after shots of this master bathroom renovation to show you how to make some valuable changes to this area whetere you are staying or selling.