Extend your living area into the backyard

Canada really on has two seasons: Skiing and patio. This year it’s all about bringing the patio into the backyard.

Canada really on has two seasons: Skiing and patio. This year it’s all about bringing the patio into the backyard.

“The major trend is outdoor lounging,” says Ken­nedy McRae, one of the founders of the landscape design firm Earth Inc. and host of HGTV’s Dirty Business.

“Everyone’s buying long couches and corner sectionals. It’s not just about a formal sitting area anymore. There’s a table area and then there’s the kick-back-and-hang-out area.”

The idea is to move your inside outside for the three or so coveted months of warm weather. “It’s about extending your living area,” says McRae. “Your backyard is the biggest room you own — often the same size as your house. To not use it is crazy.”

But the expense doesn’t have to be.

“Do not spend the money on the flooring. Half the space is going to be taken up by furniture anyway,” McRae says. “Do a pea gravel patio. It gives a little on all the legs of your furniture so there’s no rocking. There’s a really relaxed feeling to gravel. It’s more down to earth and adds a little whimsy.”

But if you want the structure of a deck, “get a contractor to come in and do the framing but then do the decking yourself,” suggests Mag Ruffman, toolgirl of toolgirl.com. “All you’re doing is nailing or screwing boards down and anybody can figure that out.”

For a long-term investment, go with composite decking, suggests Frank Turco, colour trend and design manager at The Home Depot. “It’s a huge trend,” says Turco. “It’s not inexpensive, but it’s a maintenance-free product guaranteed for 25 to 30 years, depending on the brand.”

Otherwise, spend the money on verticals. “Vertical elements like a stream or a tree are more of a wow factor,” says McRae. “Anything upright creates more sense of space. A collection of tree trunks works great. Or try multi-stem trees that make it feel like there’s more than one.”

The same goes for gardening. “Vertical gardening is huge,” says Turco. “Instead of just planting into the ground, people are planting up the wall. So you’re getting a lot more vertical florals available on the marketplace.”

 
 
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