From Engineering on July 28, 2009 in Decks and Patios
On the road to backyard paradise
Its summertime, baby! And you know what that means: picnics, patio BBQs, family reunions, sprints through the sprinklers, and cool dips in the pool. In the winter, we install the storm windows, open the flue and set the fire a-blazing. But in summer, we flock in droves to the outdoors, we reunite with friends & family; in short, we gather.
So where do you like to go? Hopefully, youll make it to your favorite park, campground, lake or mountainside. Don’t forget, though, that the best summer gathering spots can be found in our own backyards.
Photo credit: HGTV
Customizing your backyard sweet spot can be as simple as covering the patio, or as intricate as landscaped pathways leading to shaded gazebos on the banks of a bubbling koi pond. Here are some ideas to jumpstart your summer haven:
Deck and Patio
The first step is the one taken out your back door, and where your feet land can dictate the whole scene. That’s why decks and patios are a staple of American life. We all need our stretching and breathing room.
Those of us with backyards should utilize our decks & patios to the fullest extent. As for the art of creating a gathering spot, a new wood deck, stone or concrete patio are fantastic options. Sometimes an existing deck or patio just needs a facelift, or perhaps some attractive adornments, such as planter boxes, container gardens or an outdoor bar.
Shade is key for summer hangouts. If you’re lucky enough to have towering oak or maple trees in the yard, I congratulate you. But there are ways to create cool and attractive shade where there is none. Build a pergola or arbor. These lovely garden or patio additions are relatively inexpensive and easy to build, do not block out the sky totally (although some homeowners let vine plants create a natural ceiling), and provide a surprising amount of shade all at once.
The sunroom is a refreshing way to blend the in- and outdoors. A small addition attached to the house, the sunroom allows family and friends to gather in the warmth and peace of the outdoors without the hot sun and insects. They can be screened or fitted with glass windows, or even connected to the home’s heating and cooling system for year-round good times.
The art and architecture of your landscape can elevate it beyond a simple shady spot to a majestic & dynamic retreat. Water features, stone retaining walls, foot paths and a variety of plant life all contribute to the pleasant panorama of elaborate landscaping.
Like mini retreats within your own backyard, gazebos make for a fine gathering spot at the end of a long day’s activities. Usually octagonal (although variations abound), covered and often screened-in, gazebos act like detached sunrooms. They’re perfect for lazy afternoons with your friends, social club meetings, or just a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of outdoor activity.
For all the urban or suburban citizens out there, a privacy fence takes top priority in the list of ways to create a gathering spot. Typically made using cedar boards, an ivy-strewn fence, for example, creates a sense of intimacy invaluable to your peace of mind, home safety, and fun family parties. And you can always invite the neighbors to the barbecue.