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This week’s article is a continuation of last week’s 10 biggest mistakes homeowners make in their outdoor spaces. I’m doing this even though I got an earful from my Grandma when she read my #8, a ban on red mulch. (Sorry Granny, you haven’t convinced me that there is a place for colourful mulch in a garden.)
In all fairness, it has taken me years of trial and error to put together this list and I figure I’ve made every one of these mistakes several times on my own, which is why I feel safe sharing them with you.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of radio and television interviews around the upcoming filming of Home to Win 3 (on HGTV) and one question really stood out for me. I was asked what I believe are the biggest mistakes or missed opportunities when it comes to the backyard and outdoor design. This led to me creating a whole presentation on the 10 biggest mistakes homeowners make for the fall home-show circuit.
This past weekend I was once again honoured to be a judge for Canada Blooms, our country’s largest gardening event, held in Toronto. This year’s theme was Canada 150 and the gardens were designed to reflect a definition of the Canadian backyard.
While the designs might not have reflected Canada as a whole, there are definitely some commonalities in the gardens that I think work for every Canadian backyard.
Moving water resonates in any well-designed backyard and it was apparent from the designs that having some form of fountain, waterfall or bubbling stream is a trend.
Krista and Grant have the classic backyard with the driveway down the side and a large garage as the focal point in their backyard.
On a positive note, they have a very large space measuring 196’ x 43’which their children have happily taken advantage of for years.
Now the kids have outgrown their outdoor activities and its time for mom and dad to make the yard meet their needs.
The challenge when parents leave the backyard to the kids is in understanding how to use it once the children have moved on.
The backyard hasn’t been an area for the adults up until this point. It’s almost like discovering another room in a house that you didn’t know you had and trying to decide how to best use it.
Krista and Grant want to link the garage to the newly built deck with stairs and better accessibility. They want to create a space for entertaining and incorporate plants and vegetables to make the area feel more welcoming.
My first winner of the backyard design solution from the Fall Ideal Home Show is Joanne from Bedford. Joanne has a common problem of being one of the lower homes in her neighbourhood. All of the water from everyone’s yard runs into her space and then down to the one neighbour below her. Just to make the situation a little worse, when the homes were constructed, the builder decided to fill in an existing stream with soil and a series of ineffective berms (mounds of soil and grass) in an attempt to reroute the rainwater.
Joanne wants to dry out the back of her yard, remove a row of cedars and add a vegetable garden to the space.
As a landscaper designer, I’ve seen it all; from backyard wastelands to jungles that got away. When did backyards become so intimidating? Most homeowners are afraid to make changes so their backyard stays the same, year-after-year.
Here are my five favourite excuses that people use when stuck in a gardening ‘rut.’
If I replace my lawn with gardens, I will have to spend more time in the backyard working
FALSE! The truth is, grass requires more maintenance then any other outdoor feature (except kids of course!) A well-planned garden will use less water and require less weekly attention then the average lawn. The key is to have a garden that works in your location. Doing a little research will provide years of reward. Get your camera and take some pictures of what grows well in your neighbour’s yard. Take those to your favourite garden centre for a little insider information.