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Gardening: Planning to transform your yard

First, you have a dream, then a plan to make your space beautiful

We’ve had our winter – a little snow, a cold snap or two, and a bunch of rain – so now it’s time to start thinking about spring.

And nothing says spring like yard work and landscape renovations.

If you love your home, and you haven’t already done the deed, chances are you’re already thinking about how you’re going to transform your yard into your personal paradise this spring and summer. And if you’re a typical homeowner, you probably don’t have nearly enough money to do everything you’d like to do, or enough time to accomplish it all.

Which is why Sherilyn Gale and Rob Turner of Beneath Your Feat Landscaping suggest the best way to begin transforming your yard is to develop a plan.

Naturally, there are as many ways to develop the perfect plan as there are people, and your personal paradise is not going to end up looking anything like your neighbour’s or best friend’s.

It’s all about personal taste, say Gale and Turner.

Even if you’re on a budget, you can achieve wonders, if you put your mind to it.

The award-winning landscaping team says a good plan starts with a dream. Do you envision a party zone or a personal oasis? Is it about food production or a place for the kids to play? Did you take a trip somewhere and marvel at the gardens you saw?

“Perhaps you wish to include a design such as a Japanese garden, or as many customers we have built for want, a garden that emulates the Whistler theme – natural rocks, boulders and native plantings that are drought tolerant. It could include an actual waterfall and stream, or even a dry river bed,” says Gale.

One of the advantages of creating a plan, says Turner, is that it allows you to do the necessary projects over time. This is particularly helpful for those who can only devote so much time each year, or those whose budget only stretches so far.

“If you’re on a budget, a good plan will allow you to concentrate on specific, smaller projects that can be completed independently of the other projects, which means they can be put to use right away, and don’t rely on the other components to make the yard functional or beautiful,” he says. “Build in stages and you’ll be amazed at how much gets accomplished.”

More and more people are making good use of all their space, says Gale. This is particularly true of those with smaller yards.

“A simple court yard entrance that includes a bench with small privacy hedges and possibly even a fountain is a garden,” says Gale. “It provides both functionality as well as curb appeal, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot in time or money.”

Raised garden beds are another way to landscape your yard simply and efficiently. They also have the added benefit of providing food and a little “outdoor therapy.”

Think of your yard as a place to create new “rooms” for your home, Gale advises.

Outdoor living spaces can be elaborate and include such features as waterfalls, ponds, outdoor kitchens, bar areas, and even small putting greens for added entertainment.

They can also be much simpler, with covered pergolas, fireplaces, fire pits, and outdoor heaters for year round use – depending on your lifestyle and budget.

Lighting is a huge consideration, and you can create some stunning spaces and terrific ambiance with a few well-placed lights that will bring the backyard to life at night.

Turner says you need to put a bit of thought into what you want from your yard. But with so many families opting for “staycations,” it just makes sense to turn one’s yard into something more than a patch of grass and a few shrubs.

“You pay an awful lot of money for a home these days,” he says, “and you deserve to have every corner of the property pay you back.”

Gale notes that a properly executed landscape plan could add upwards of 10 per cent to the value of a property.

So if you want more from your property this year, consider creating a landscaping plan that will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of your home.

Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.


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