The changes the world is facing have everyone off-balance these days.
They are adapting to new ways of living, working, and socializing. People scrambled to catch up with changes and did, and many of those new ways are going to stick. The most obvious one is spending more time at home.
People’s priorities have changed for sure. It may be a while until they feel comfortable taking that dream trip to Europe. The alternative may be investing in outdoor living spaces that promise to elevate the current lifestyle to suit that new reality.
It helps to step back and look at the big picture to know what’s right for you.
What Your Landscaping Wants From You
Vacations are snapshots of life. The memories they create are markers of special times with family and friends that come and go.
Whereas landscaping, like a family pet that is always with us, wants to be loved and appreciated all of the time. That you are spending more time with it is a signal that its role in your life is expanding.
Of course, it’s up to you to determine how it becomes a bigger part of your lifestyle.
Do you love your landscape, really love it as it is today? One way to decide is by evaluating the ways in which your landscaping loves you back.
What benefits does your landscaping currently provide?
- If your landscaping is presently well-maintained, it manages the water that it collects, and that passes through it.
- Ornamental plantings capture dust and pollutants. They also screen undesirable views and help to minimize unwanted noise.
- A healthy lawn naturally cools the outdoor environment. A generous turfgrass area cools the ambient temperature 20-30 degrees lower than hard paving or bare soil.
- If your landscaping is lovingly cared for it provides you with a calming, nourishing sanctuary. That connection with Nature keeps human beings balanced and grounded.
That’s a lot of love! Here’s how to get more of it from your landscaping.
What You Want From Your Landscaping
Your outdoor environment contributes to your lifestyle. The challenge nowadays is determining how its roles and responsibilities should be expanded.
Outdoor Office or Studio
Now that working remotely is more acceptable and expected, you’ll want to do it better. There’s no reason to be confined to the indoors on beautiful days when the right outdoor environment is more productive.
You may already have a screened porch or similar outdoor room that will work. If so you should be trying it out to learn how it can be adapted to fully accommodate your needs. Factors to consider include adequate lighting and power for electronic devices. Adding a ceiling fan will extend its usability throughout the warmer months.
If you are starting fresh, you can design and build your custom backyard office or studio or start with a pre-built kit. These studios are popular with writers, artists, and other creative types. Search the internet for those terms to discover ideas for inspiring yours.
One of the outcomes of this pandemic is that people are more tuned into their health and well-being. Not only is a backyard garden a source of healthy vegetables, but it can also be a wonderful science laboratory for young children.
Any gardener will tell you that rich, well-drained soil is vitally important. You may wish to hire a contractor to remove what may be heavy, clayey soils, and replace them with a suitable garden mix. Additional considerations are raising the planting beds to ensure proper drainage, installing drip irrigation systems, and protecting the area from rabbits, deer, and other animals.
Meditation or Serenity Garden
Having a quiet space where you can simply be with nature is incredibly rejuvenating. To achieve this you may wish to work with a professional designer with this experience. He or she will understand how to balance the typical elements to achieve that “less is more” outcome.
You want to surround yourself with things that give you pleasure and peace of mind, but be careful. One rookie mistake is adding so many elements to your sanctuary. That clutter will occupy your thoughts and undermine the purpose of this space.
Less is more.
The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Living
This comprehensive Guide To Outdoor Living In Minnesota is an invaluable resource for exploring outdoor living and incorporating it into your lifestyle.
Planning And Budgeting For Your New Lifestyle
Most people understand that budgets are flexible and this is especially true of landscaping projects. If you plan well you can build your project in phases to stretch the budget. However, keep in mind that there are mobilization costs for each phase that will add slightly to the overall cost.
Your most important investment is the logical first step, working with an experienced landscape design professional. His or her knowledge will save you making common mistakes that trip people up, especially if they plan to do the work themselves.
As you work through the design phase you should always understand your exposure in terms of the investment. This will eliminate unnecessary surprises. You don’t want to get excited about anything you cannot afford.
This flexible budgeting process will help you manage your budget throughout the design phase.
- Settle on the must-have features or elements to include in your outdoor living space (e.g. patio, seat wall, firepit, pergola, kitchen station, lighting, etc.)
- List them in a column on the left axis.
- Then to the right of that column create three more columns: HIGH, MEDIUM, and LOW.
- Now fill in the grid with estimates of the cost for each element with its high, medium, and low price points. (e.g. a natural stone patio may be high, fabricated stone medium, and standard brick pavers low).
- These high, medium and low costs should include the materials, labor, and equipment to build them.
The sum of the respective high, medium, and low columns will give you a broad budget range for planning.
- Choose specific quality/cost targets from each high, medium, or low column to further tighten up the budget.
NOTE: If you can add it later, you may elect to eliminate an element to further manage your current budget.
Also, do not forget to include a lump sum for demolition or general site work, including permits, drainage measures, temporary fencing, and other miscellaneous costs.
Lastly, you will want to hire a company you trust, but being informed and available can prove to be invaluable for making your vision come together as smoothly as possible.