Bring bliss to your back yard
Beautiful landscaping can add value to your home
Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 06:00 am
Are you thinking about a backyard makeover? Maybe you’ve dreamed of a water feature, rock wall or privacy screen of trees and shrubs? It’s not too late in the season to create a backyard oasis, or at least get started on a landscape design. And, according to experts, it’s a project that can take a few years to bring to fruition, so make that wish list and start planning.
“Now is the time to mull over wants, needs and budget,” said Casey Beckhuson, owner of HML Landscape Construction & Maintenance. “Are you entertainers? Do you have a family with young children? Pets? Are quiet and privacy the priority? There’s landscaping for every budget, but in my 15 years in the business, costs usually surprise homeowners – it’s more expensive than what people anticipate – so planning, designing and doing work in stages can make sense.”
From HML’s initial consultation and design, to construction of everything from stone patios and walkways, retaining walls, water features, fences, decks and irrigation systems, Beckhuson said a relaxing yard is usually high on a homeowner’s priority list. A deck or patio with a space to barbecue and eat outdoors is a given, he said, working with a budget of anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000, but averaging $30,000 to $50,000 for most projects.
Indeed, realtors place high value (and high resale value) on attractive landscaping, saying homeowners should consider spending 15 per cent of a home’s value on landscaping. On a $500,000 property, that equals about $75,000 for landscaping.
“With Alberta’s great economy, many homeowners are willing to pay the same attention to the outside of the home as they do inside. People can spend $70,000 on trees, shrubs, plants and gardens, so it makes sense to protect that investment with an irrigation system – it cares for plants, conserves water and is convenient – you can run it from your iPhone, or go away on vacation. It’s becoming a very popular feature,” Beckhuson said.
Trends abound in backyard design – in-ground watering systems, natural stone boulder retaining walls and dry creek beds, and water features of all sizes among them. “There’s the mountain creek ‘Jasper’ look that has become popular but also, in sharp contrast, modern, clean lines are also in. People want low-maintenance yards, so you’re seeing cobblestone edgings that are easy to mow across, but also less grass – even artificial turf. And landscape lighting is taking off too – it can really pull a yard together to have spot lighting on a water feature, or trees that are uplit at night.”
Beckhuson said many new home buyers today look at a small water feature and lighting as part of a landscaping package (along with deck and barbecue area – that’s pretty much standard), as well as bringing in the warmth and greenery of trees, shrubs and plants. Designers can help plan a garden that will provide colour and greenery all season long, choosing plants with staggered blooming times, Beckhuson added.
Of course, many homeowners and DIYers spend far less to create a backyard haven but, according to Consumer Reports magazine, most people still plan to spend in the thousands to improve the yard for outdoor entertaining – better lighting, a new grill or deck and updated furniture and cushions – all to create a perfect spot to unwind or entertain. And remember, even something as simple as a planter, hammock, trellis and music can create a cozy nook and the mood you want on a modest budget.