Dig into landscaping

Dig into landscaping

Make this the summer you finally get the yard done.

Any well-developed living space – including backyards – should incorporate practicality, easy maintenance, comfort, lifestyle accommodations and beautiful design elements. There are so many different landscaping choices and features for one’s yard space that just about anyone can find a design they’ll love. Listed below is what you need to know about the most important of these.

Rocks and boulders provide low-maintenance and low water requirements – known as xeriscaping – and offer contrast in scale, colour and texture.

1. Rocks and boulders

Introducing rugged stone elements to your yard is an effective way to add natural beauty all year long. These accents are especially useful in Western Canada where snow sticks around for many months of the year. In the spring, summer and fall they make great backdrops for flowers or shrubs. And nothing adds a sense of permanence and age like a big old rock.  

2. Privacy screens

In an urban setting, privacy can be a challenge as lot sizes tend to be smaller and population density is higher. Adding privacy screens to your deck or yard can create a feeling of intimacy while also providing shade where needed. Privacy screens are artificial products that can bring both function and art to your yard in equal measures.

Not only is this custom built gate sturdy, it mimics the paving stone pattern for a unique look.

3. Gates and trellises

There is no better way to inspire guests than with a grand entrance into your new yard. To do so, you need to set the tone with the right gate. A trellis, on the flipside, allows for a stylish separation within the yard itself. Ultimately, these elements will add structure and privacy.   

The gentle curve and inset paving stone lighting blocks highlight the main access point to the backyard.

4. Walkways

Walkways direct guests to unique gathering spaces throughout a yard. Heavy use requires paving stone, concrete or asphalt. Medium use options include crusher dust or rubber. For light use in areas like gardens, mulch, crushed rock or rubber chips are appropriate.

5. Mulch

Once your yard is completed, adding mulch to flower beds, trees and shrubs gives the yard a finished look. In addition to aesthetics, mulch has practical applications, including weed reduction and soil moisture retention (which in turn requires less watering). Mulch comes in many different shapes, colours and materials. Seek products that won’t blow away in the wind and that will complement your yard’s other design elements.

Safe and sheltered, this fire pit is protected from the wind but clear of large trees and other possible fire hazards.

6. Social hubs

Courtyards and fire pits add functional benches, bistro tables and soft seating to well-appointed backyards. These intimate settings typically have a solid surface underfoot, but are balanced and softened with surrounding shrubs, trees and flowers.

Rocks and plants were carefully selected for this water feature to provide the ultimate look and gentle sound of running water.

7. Water features

Awaken your senses with the sound of running water. It could be as simple as a birdbath, or as elaborate as a fountain, rock waterfall, stream or pond. If you love having birds in your yard, then a water feature is a must-have. 

8. Raised planters

Building volume and definition in a yard space can be achieved using raised planters. In the prairie provinces, height in a yard is something that you need to intentionally keep in mind due to winter’s heavy snowfall. Elevated areas can be established with stone retaining walls or raised garden planters. Play with the shape of the raised areas – they can highlight soft curves or strong edges to balance the layout of the yard.         

9. Lighting

Just as indoor lighting can be a big factor in setting a home’s atmosphere, the same rings true for exterior landscape lighting. You can light up a tree, bounce light off a wall onto a shrub, highlight a pathway or define an edge. Ideally, wired lighting will give the best effect, but it does need to be preplanned in the infrastructure portion of your landscape design.   

Take the time to plan out how you will use your yard and what challenges you need to overcome in your landscaping project. These elements can all play a big factor in creating your backyard masterpiece. Once the planning and execution stages are complete, just sit back, grab a cold drink and enjoy your beautiful yard.

Content for this article was developed in collaboration with Denise Balcaen of Gardens Four Seasons.

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