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Creative Ways to Transform a Suburban Back Yard

Apr 01, 2015 01:29PM ● Published by Face Editor

Transforming a suburban back yard into a “destination get-a-way” is possible.  If your budget allows, hire a landscape architect to give your yard a five-star wow factor.  If doing the work yourself, try incorporating a few of the concepts professionals use.

Most suburban back yards are fairly small which means space is limited.  Start by defining your greatest needs or desires so you can factor them into your design.  Do you want to include a pool or pond?  Do you want a space for barbequing and dining?  Do you want a private seating area?  Is it important to have a vegetable garden?  Would you like to care for perennial flowers or would you prefer low maintenance plants?  Is more shade or privacy needed?  Is it important to preserve a section of lawn for playing ball?

Create Rooms

To install your wish list while giving your yard the illusion of space, divide it into “rooms”.  Incorporate separating “walls” and adjoining paths.  Short “walls” might be created with plant materials, retaining walls or raised garden beds that are constructed from concrete, stone, or brick.  Walking paths created with interesting flooring materials can also be useful room demarcations.

Plan Your Plantings

Placing the right size of plants is imperative for a small garden if it’s to retain its manicured look over time.  Always consider the predicted full-grown height and spread of plants before adding them.  Add only as much as you’re willing to maintain.  It’s all too easy for an over-planted small garden to become quickly overcrowded.  Choose dwarf or miniature plant species and attractive grasses to delicately enhance each room.  

Add Fun and Functional Focal Points

A focal point in an indoor room is that large piece of architecture, furniture, picture, or other item that captivates a person’s attention when he first enters a room.  In a well-designed room, all other furniture and features centre around and play off the focal point.  Use the same train of thought for your outdoor rooms.

Focal points in garden rooms can range from a large outdoor fireplace to a favourite tree.  You might want to add a water feature, a garden statue, a whimsical art piece, or create an inviting seating area.  Each focal point, of course, should fit the scale of the room it’s found in.  Small-scaled focal points placed throughout your garden can become pleasant surprises to the visiting explorer.

A focal point may also serve a dual purpose.  A water feature can double as a sound barrier, a bench will provide needed seating, an attractive shed will provide needed storage, a gazebo will provide shade, a single small tree can provide privacy.

When designing your suburban garden, plan in rooms, plan to scale, and attend to the small details within each room by grooming every corner of it.  The result should be a very welcoming garden that serves multiple purposes and becomes a place you want to visit often.


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