Give Your Backyard a Makeover

From the Botanical Gardens, to the numerous parks and trails, to private residences boasting astonishing oral displays and landscapes, the Niagara Region is well-known for its interest in gardening and horticulture. When the weather gets warmer, we enjoy the time we can spend outside in the peace and comfort of our own backyard.

Outdoor parties, barbecues, and nights spent around an open re create fond memories with family and friends. is year, give your yard a makeover to be the ultimate place to host, entertain, or simply relax in solitude. Invest in an affordable addition, or spend a few fun weekends tackling these DIY projects.

Fire Pit Area

One of the most popular backyard features, a fire pit, is simple to add and an attractive space to entertain. Ideally, they are constructed from reproof material on flat, level land at least 25 feet from a house or building. They are strictly governed by local building codes, some of which may require you build within a certain area, or encircle your pit with sand or gravel and even regulate what you are allow to use as fuel. To build a stone fire pit, start by digging out a circular area and building the foundation by mixing water with concrete. Next, build an outer wall by layering stones of different sizes, and then construct a smooth inner fire brick wall. Finish off by removing any excess debris, and painting, if you’d like, for a polished look. Cedar chairs go perfectly around a fire pit when you’re relaxing, having drinks and making s’mores.

Pergola with Lights or Flower

A pergola is an open passageway that creates a space to walk or an area to entertain. Wooden posts support crossbeams and sturdy, open lattice, creating a foundation to add flowers, vines, and other plants for shade or decoration. Bougainvillea and roses are common choices, adorned with pretty fairy lights. Basic pergolas and archways can be constructed fairly easily as a DIY project. The space created is perfect to set patio furniture, or you can incorporate it into a walkway. Pergolas can be transformed into an outdoor dining room by adding weather-resistant curtains to enclose the space.

Raised Flower Beds

Raised flowerbeds are quite easy to install — you can even get the job done yourself in a day. They’re also a great solution if you have back problems to reduce bending when gardening. Most people use wood such as cedar or recycled pallets for the frame of the bed, but stone or concrete can be substituted for a more permanent structure.

Basic flowerbed structures are raised-cedar boxes, advancing into landscaping timber structures, closed-in beds, or incorporated into a seated bench area. Once you have built the frame, fill the area with soil and compost, and plant beautiful flowers or seeds to grow your own herbs and vegetables.

Tiki Bar

Bring a little flavour of the tropics to your garden this summer by adding your very own tiki bar. Building the bar area itself requires some work, but transforming it from a plain backyard watering hole into an island getaway is as simple as adding thatching to the roof and colourful floral decorations. You can even browse online to get rolled bamboo panels to wrap around the bar, and fun pineapple-shaped and tiki-themed glasses and punch bowls. Be sure to stock your bar with ingredients like pineapple juice, coconut milk, and fresh fruit to make delicious island-inspired cocktails.

Covered Gazebo

As lovely as the warm summer months may be, they also attract many insects, especially the dreaded mosquitos. There are many inexpensive covered gazebos with mosquito nets available if you browse home improvement stores or search the Internet. With a covered gazebo surrounding your patio table, you can continue to serve and entertain your friends while it’s raining lightly and late into the night when the bugs start to bite. Newly renovated gardens in 2018 are starting to “rethink” the concept of alfresco dining, by situating their outdoor eating space away from the house, rather than right outside the kitchen. This creates a relaxing sanctuary for both the guests and their host. Be sure to include areas to serve and chill food, to avoid making trips back to the house.

Outdoor Movie Theatre

An open-air cinema is not just for the drive in. With just a few key pieces of equipment and some cozy furniture, you can recreate the drive-in feeling in your back yard. You can purchase outdoor screens online, or simply find a spot to secure a plain white sheet. You’ll need a home theatre projector situated in a spot where it won’t be damaged by the rain, as well as speakers to create a theatrical surround-sound experience. Outdoor camping chairs, or the new inflatable bean bag chairs are perfect for a cozy night watching films on a summer night.

Forest Bathing

Borrowed from the Japanese tradition of ‘Shinrin-yoku’ forest bathing is done simply by visiting a forest, wooded area, or some nature conservation, ideally with tree-cover, for a short, relaxing walk. In urban areas, this could be a nearby park or greenway, or the nearest hiking trail. At home you can create your own by building a stone footpath with bridges weaving in and out of a woodland garden, and if you have the space and land for it, add a stream.

Water Features and Zen Gardens

Reconnect with the peaceful sounds of nature by adding water features to your garden. Home improvement and garden centres sell pre-made fountains, or you can build a custom creation using recycled metals, bamboo, stones, and other materials. Meditation is rising in popularity as part of the ‘Nature Rx’ experience, and many homeowners are including Zen gardens in their backyards. A Zen garden is essentially just a space where you can disconnect from your busy life and listen to the sounds of nature. Plants amid smooth stones next to a water feature with a shaded area to relax creates the perfect spot for meditation.

For more lifestyle tips & tricks, visit our Lifestyle & Culture section. 

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