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Great Backyard & Patio Ideas
By Mike Holmes
Monday, May 25th, 2020 @ 4:53pm
We’re heading full force into summer, and for many of us, our idea of a great summer starts with a great backyard. But more than just a place to have some drinks, enjoy time with the kids and friends, it’s important that your backyard works for you—by that I mean it helps protect your home and save you money.
Here are some features to consider for your backyard and patio ideas:
I don’t just mean the barbecue here – though that makes a great centrepiece for an outdoor kitchen. What else should you include in your outdoor kitchen? To start, a table setting, plus plenty of seating for guests. Some other options you could include are outdoor cooler or refrigerator systems to keep cold drinks on hand, a sink for washing, and I’ve even seen some great outdoor pizza ovens.
I love having an outdoor fireplace. There are actually a lot of stylish options out there for styles and sizes. You can get long and narrow ones or round ones depending on the rest of your furniture.
Fire pits are an awesome addition to your home that can bring the camping experience right to your backyard. Nothing beats a starry night by the fire roasting marshmallows with the family.
However – before you add your fire pit, make sure your city allows them. You don’t want to end up with a fine.
DECORATE WITH FUN DESIGNS
Your yard is a big opportunity to show off your personality. Even adding some bright, decorative throw pillows can enhance you existing outdoor space. Other options include your choice of plants in the garden – you can go with bold flowers, or some more subdued shrubs.
MAKE YOUR LANDSCAPING WORK FOR YOU
Good landscaping works for the homeowner. What do I mean by that? I mean, planting trees in smart areas so that they provide nice cooling shade for your main structure. Or plotting a good spot for a vegetable garden that will get enough sun to grow good things all season long.
A landscape architect can help you plan a yard that suits your needs – and looks great, too.
INVEST IN PLANTERS AND POTS
I don’t like plants and shrubs right up against the foundation wall. Every time you go to water them you are driving water directly to your foundation. Any tiny cracks will allow water to penetrate through, and if your basement is finished this can be an expensive fix.
Shrubs against your foundation wall and exterior can also trap moisture against your home’s exterior when they get bigger, which could lead to mould, termites or other insects. You’re better off moving those garden beds and shrubs away from your house.
My son Mike Jr is actually building a raised garden bed.
ADD OUTDOOR LIGHTS
Definitely add lights at entryways, along steps or pathways, and if your home has a secondary entry, like at the side, you want to make sure you have a light there, too that allows you to see the doorknob and keyhole in the dark.
If you have a long driveway you can add lights along the way. That can help guide drivers at night as they pull up to your house. You also feel safer driving up a driveway that’s lit, especially out in cottage country where there aren’t many streetlights.
Something else I really like are solar outdoor lights. I have them at my house—along the driveway, all around my garage. Somewhere around 9:30pm they click on, they run for 5 hours and they literally light up the whole driveway—it’s the strongest LED light I’ve seen. The best part is that there are no wires, and they have solar power on top that charges a battery underneath. And the batteries shouldn’t cost more the $17—so it’s bang for your buck.
KEEP UP WITH SHED MAINTENANCE
A shed needs its regular maintenance as much as any other part of your home. If you leave it to rot, not only could you lose the structure, it can seriously damage what’s inside the shed. Each year you should clean the exterior with soap and water to remove grime and prevent mildew and staining. If the shed has any windows, replace any broken or missing caulking. Give the interior a thorough vacuum to keep pests away – and finally, keep grass neatly trimmed around the exterior.
INSTALL AWNINGS TO REDUCE HEAT GAIN
As I mentioned before, you can strategically plant trees around your home to block out the heat (not too close) but you can also install awnings on your windows. Awnings are an old school solution that can reduce heat gain by about 55 to 77 percent. In some areas, awnings can save homeowners as much as 25 percent on their energy bills!
ADD A PERGOLA
You could also hire a pro to build a pergola on the sunny side of your house.
Pergolas are those wooden exterior structures, usually in the backyard against the house, that have vertical posts supporting large crossbeams and joists. (If the pergola is freestanding it usually has four support posts. If it’s built off the side of a house it will have two.) Pergolas are great because they can help block out the heat and cut cooling costs, and they look good too!
Your backyard should be your sanctuary—the place where you can kick back and relax. But to do it right you have to plan it right, because what you do on the outside of your home will always have an impact indoors.