How to im­prove a less-than-per­fect out­door space

The Hamilton Spectator - - REAL ESTATE -

Noth­ing beats re­lax­ing on your pa­tio, porch or deck af­ter a long day. With just a few months of warm, sunny weather, Cana­di­ans do like to max­i­mize their out­door space come the sum­mer months. But not ev­ery home comes equipped with the per­fect spot for en­joy­ing a warm, evening breeze. Here are some tips for mak­ing the most of your home's out­door space, no mat­ter what the is­sue!

The blank slate: If you've re­cently moved into a home with a bare back­yard and your bud­get is tight, try mak­ing small changes ev­ery year rather than tack­ling the en­tire space in one sum­mer. There are tons of af­ford­able changes you can make to cre­ate a re­lax­ing set­ting. The first mis­sion to un­der­take is seat­ing, a key el­e­ment to any comfy gath­er­ing spot. Shop on­line garage sale sites and Ki­jiji to find a used pa­tio set in good con­di­tion or look for some old, alu­minum fold­ing lawn chairs that you can up­cy­cle. Sim­ply re­move the can­vas or plas­tic web­bing and re­place by weav­ing some colour­ful craft cord across the frame! You can find step-bystep in­struc­tions on­line. Other op­tions for DIY, bud­get-friendly fur­ni­ture in­clude pal­lets and ce­ment blocks, tires and cable spools. You'd be amazed at what you can cre­ate with so lit­tle!

The fish­bowl: Some home­own­ers are re­luc­tant to use their back­yards be­cause there is lit­tle pri­vacy, es­pe­cially in newer sub­di­vi­sions lack­ing ma­ture trees. If you're feel­ing a lit­tle ex­posed, there are many ways to make your space feel like a se­cluded oa­sis. For an im­me­di­ate so­lu­tion, use wood, out­door fab­ric or plants to cre­ate a wall that will cre­ate a par­tially en­closed seat­ing area. Think­ing long term, a pri­vacy hedge is the per­fect so­lu­tion for an ex­posed back­yard. Good op­tions in­clude: ar­borvi­tae, box­wood, Golden vi­cary privet, for­sythia and French lilac.

Teeny tiny: Even tight spa­ces can be turned into a won­der­ful place to kick back and re­lax af­ter a long day. When cre­at­ing more liv­able space out­doors and square footage is tight, think first about how you want to uti­lize the space and plan ac­cord­ingly. Would you like an en­ter­tain­ment/eat­ing area? A spot for kids to play? A med­i­tat­ing gar­den with pond? You likely will only be able to choose one func­tion for a small back­yard so take the time to con­sider how you can get the most bang for your buck! (RMM)

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