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Outdoor Privacy Solutions for the Homeowner

Privacy Solutions for Outdoor Spaces

Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close

Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.

Backyard privacy solution

Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.

Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.

Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.

Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.

Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.

Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.

Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.

Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.

DIY landscaping

Money-Saving DIY Landscaping Tips

Think of landscaping as the ultimate accessory for your home. The perfect balance of trees, shrubs and flowers can enhance your street appeal and welcome your friends and family to a showcase of beauty. Most often, however, this makeover comes with a hefty price tag. Traditionally, homeowners may expect to pay anywhere from 5% to 15% of their home’s value on landscaping (which is based on a median-home value of $213,000 in the U.S.), so could run you over $10,000 at the end of the day. To avoid breaking the bank, DIY landscape experts suggest following these tips to create a garden design that looks like it was done by professionals.

DIY landscape

  • Determine a landscape or garden design idea – Choosing the same variety of fast growing and border plants creates a unified look throughout your property and reduces the appearance of clutter. Creating a unified palette allows for more creative planting of beautiful flowers and flowering plants that add splashes of color to highlight your home. Buying smaller plants in bulk can save you money when buying the same variety. Don’t worry about the size, because depending on the species, they could double in size in two years. Buying plants at the end of the season can also save you money.
  • Improve Your Soil – Investing in beautiful plants and flowers is money out the window if you’re planting them in unnourished soil. Experts agree that investing in good soil and Miracle-Gro® is the first step to creating a lush, healthy and flourishing landscape.
  • Preserve What You Have and Work Around It – Homeowners may find they have a treasure growing in the yard (which may have gone unappreciated hidden under overgrowth). Prune and cut back any trees or foliage you can work around. It will not only save you money, but will preserve a part of the nostalgia associated with the home.
  • Perennials – Planting perennials will save you the headache of replanting annuals every year. Perennials bloom every year and grow a strong root system, ensuring their survival during the harsh winter months. While annuals often provide more color variety, perennials (like hydrangeas, hostas or roses) can be very colorful and will require less maintenance.
  • Hire Yourself – You can save money by doing as much of the work as possible yourself. A three-gallon bush can cost $15 if you purchase and plant it yourself. Hire a professional, and the cost just doubled for the same plant.
  • Share Costs with Neighbors – If your land abuts your neighbor’s, plan what plants or foliage you want together and split the cost!
  • Plant in Stages – Divide your project into phases and save money to pay as you go. In other words, break your yard into sections. For example, focus on the front areas that people can see first, then migrate to the backyard, and then save the furthest out, largest or hard-to-reach areas for last.
  • Know Where to Plant – Roots love to travel and can damage concrete blocks, driveways, sidewalks and in-ground pools, so do your homework before putting a shovel in the ground. The rule of thumb (preferably a green one) is to plant large trees at least 30 feet from these areas.
  • Watering – The latest EPA statistics reveal that outdoor water usage accounts for 20% of total home water usage. Try selecting plants that are drought-tolerant to save money on your water bill. Set your sprinklers to only run for a certain period of time.
  • Mulch – Mulch is an inexpensive (an average of $2.50 a bag) and perfect way to give a brushed-up, tasteful look to your landscape design. Mulch comes in a variety of colors, including traditional red, contemporary beige and the more trendy black.
  • Freebies – Check with your local city for free trees, mulch and compost. Some cities offer groups of neighbors large amounts of trees in exchange for planting and maintaining them. If you see that your neighbor has overgrowth of a particular plant in their yard, ask them if you could take a few – they might really appreciate it!
Backyard Gazeebo

Back Yard Fun: Creating a Space to Entertain

 

Every homeowner wants to utilize all the space in their home. If you are planning to entertain, consider where you want to entertain and how. The back yard of a home is a great space for everything from weddings to parties and even just Sunday barbecues. When planning to build your back yard space, there are many different designs you can choose from or create. If you are unsure where to start, take these tips into consideration.

Surfaces:

One of the many mistakes made by homeowners is their choice in outside surfaces. With all of the furniture exposed to the elements, choosing the wrong surfaces can prove expensive as you are constantly replacing them. Choose surfaces that are design and built for outside enjoyment. Stone, brick, granite, and plastic are great choices for outside building materials. This will make it easy to clean and maintain so you can enjoy this space for years.

Choose the Purpose:

Deciding on what you want to use your back yard for is as important as the design itself. If you are planning to host parties, barbecues or weddings, you want to setup your space accordingly. Get the essentials for your plans. If your planning on Sunday grilling, don’t be afraid to spend a bit more than the usual propane grill. Extravagantly built barbecue pits and grills can give the space purpose and a focal point. If you are planning a space for your children to play while you relax and enjoy the weather, large playgrounds and chaise loungers may be what you need.

Choose Low Maintenance Landscaping:

Between work and family, many homeowners are limited on time. Choosing low maintenance gardening can provide the ambience you seek without all the maintenance conventional gardening requires. Artificial grass, drought resistant plants, and simple lush bushes can offer year round enjoyment without the year round maintenance. This will also assure your yard always looks its best regardless of the occasion.

Choose Appropriate Lighting:

You don’t want the party to end as soon as the sun goes down. Choosing lighting that will keep your yard safe and well lit is very important for night time fun. With many designs to choose from, you can match the style of lighting with the theme of your backyard. Tiki torches, paper lanterns and bamboo fixtures are a great fit for tropical themes. Sleek lamps, track lighting, and stylish flood lights can give it more of a modern feel.

Add Privacy:

Many hosts appreciate privacy for their guests. If you have the average suburban home with close neighbors, you may want to think about providing privacy for your guests. There are many ways to provide cover for any event you host. Some choose tall wooden fences, some choose large stone walls, and others choose lines of tall trees that surround the yard. Choose the method that closely resembles your design and blends with the décor. Having your privacy option blend into the surrounding design will eliminate the prison walls feel and still offer your guests the ambience you are aiming for.

Utilizing all the space in your home is a great way to offer entertainment and memories. When you choose to include your yard in your dream home design, take into consideration all the aspects of outdoor needs. Great materials, lighting and privacy are pertinent to creating a space to enjoy for years to come.

As a landscape authority Jonathan Williams writes for Gorilla Grass, a popular Australian supplier of quality artificial grass for your home or business.