Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outdoor Living (4 of 7): Landscape Planning

Some of the worst mistakes in outdoor planning are picking the wrong vegetation.  Nobody thinks of what the plant will look like when it is fully grown.  Sure, as a sapling the tree you pick is perfect right next to your house – but then it GROWS!  Now you have a cracked foundation and your house gets pummeled every time the wind blows.  So not only did you pay for a cool tree, now you have to pay a whole lot more to get that cool tree out of there.

But do not fret!  Trees are awesome when planned correctly.  The ideal yard will take advantage of all kinds of species.  With drastic climate changes in Colorado and the sometimes severe weather we have to deal with, trees and other vegetation can be very helpful.  If planted on the south side of the house (and far enough away that roots and branches are not a problem) deciduous trees (or leafy trees) are perfect for summer and winter.  In the summer they provide shade on the house which reduces cooling costs and allows sunlight (and heat) through in the winter. 

Conifers (or evergreen trees) are good to plan into your landscape as well.  With the extreme winds we can have, especially in the foothills, conifers provide great wind breaks.  Because they do not shed leaves you do want to be careful where you plant them.  If they are on the south side of sidewalks or driveways then the sun has a difficult time melting ice and you will be cursing every winter as you’re hacking at the ice with your snow shovel.  It also will prevent ice and snow from melting on the roof which could create ice dams and trap water eventually finding its way inside.

So plan carefully, and be aware of the size and location of each plant (especially trees) and you will have a yard that you will enjoy all year long.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Outdoor Living (3 of 7): Transition Spaces

Just like designing spaces for your home, there should be a separation of spaces in your yard.  If you are a party animal those transitions may be very minimal.  If you are the reflective type, then you would have more spaces and more need for transition or separation.  You wouldn’t want your grill or entertaining hub right next to your Zen garden (it messes with the chi!)  This does not mean that there must be solid barriers or walls, but a simple ledge or elevated section could provide a soft edge and separation.  Or perhaps you want to create a path surrounded by foliage which leads to a serene pond and waterfall.  Whatever the case – simple or complex – with a little thought and planning, you could have a yard that will allow for all of your outdoor needs.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Outdoor Living (2 of 7): Evaluation

Everyone wants the backyard with all the amenities you could dream of – the pond with a stream and waterfall – the seven piece grilling pavilion – the gazebo backdrop for your daughters’ wedding – the quaint Victorian mother-in-law cabin – all bordered by a picturesque forest!   Unfortunately for most this is made impossible due to unreasonable neighbors who will not let you take over their yard for your perfect summer retreat!  (Curses!!)

But do not fret!  All is not lost!  Your yard can become a haven even when evaluating the space and restrictions you have.  The key is to look at the space and unique features of your yard and plan your space with those restriction as part of your arsenal – not something to pull your hair out over because you can’t find a way to work with it.  This is where a good designer comes in handy.  The key is to find what is most important to you.  Is it creating a tranquil setting for reflection and meditation?  Or is it the block buster parties with ample food and drinks?  Once you know what you will do most in the space, then planning for the perfect backyard becomes much more manageable. 

So don’t be afraid to find features you want to have in your yard – just be aware that some things will need to be adjusted (sometimes) dramatically to make it truly work better than you anticipated.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Outdoor Living (1 of 7)

The summer can be a fantastic time to spend outdoors.  In our next series of blogs we will discuss how you can make your backyard the best place to be during these perfect Colorado summer days!  We will discuss how to utilize your backyard through landscaping, scale, and creating spaces for entertaining, cooking and play.  Most people think of their homes as only the space enclosed by the exterior wall of their house.  We want you to gain more space by utilizing the largest “room” in your home – The back yard!  We have more days of sunshine in Colorado than in either California or Florida.  A vacation does not have to be an expense you can only relive through photographs.  We will bring the vacation to you to enjoy daily!