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The quest for a perfect yard

A little bit of landscaping can help you create an outdoor oasis you can call your own

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Photo courtesy of Earthform Landscaping

Although it’s just as long as any other season, summer seems to get away from us the fastest. In an effort to make the most of the time of year, many Atlantic Canadians are making their yards more comfortable and welcoming.

“People want to maximize the space in and around their home,” says Darcy MacNeill of Stratford, P.E.I.’s Earthform Landscaping. “We’re noticing a definite upswing in the preparedness of customers and clients to invest in their backyard space. Not only do they want to make the most of the summer, many customers are opting to install things like fire features that not only help extend the season, but also serve as a focal point in the yard.”

Of course, improving the look of your yard doesn’t always equate to spending big bucks. MacNeill says homeowners shouldn’t dismiss the appeal of manicured flower beds and a clean walkway.

“Those flowerbeds and the walkway can speak volumes about the mood or tone that a homeowner is trying to set, especially if you’re looking to sell your house,” MacNeill continues. “You ultimately want to create a welcoming atmosphere for your guests.”

Pamela Beltzer, owner of Heritage Landscaping in Lunenburg, N.S. says that while simplicity will never go out of vogue, some clients are bringing increasingly ambitious ideas to the table.

“Not so long ago, if you had a respectable lawn and a couple of trees dotting your property, your landscaping was often complete,” Beltzer says. “But the idea of spending more time outside and using the whole property has really exploded over the last five years.”

With an increased focus on living outside, Beltzer says customers are installing everything from regulation-sized horseshoe pitches to tennis courts. There is also an increasing amount of people complementing their outdoor surroundings with sculptures, while avid reader are creating nooks where they can immerse themselves in their book.

Also becoming increasingly common in landscaping projects, according to Beltzer, is customers’ desire to be as eco-friendly as possible.

“Many people are taking an interest in rehabilitating land and using plants to create a more sensitive ecology,” Beltzer says. “People are recognizing that climate change has been having a major impact on the severity of storms and changing weather patterns and are including native elements to do their part to help stabilize the environment. We’re seeing people take an interest in planting things that will help bees and butterflies thrive and creating small pockets of habitats for songbirds, squirrels and rabbits.”

It’s not only animals benefitting from landscaping these days. Given the increasing popularity of the eat local trend, combined with the public’s desire to know where the food they eat is coming from, Beltzer says she sees a resurgence in small-scale gardening.

“The great thing about small-scale gardening is that you don’t really need a lot of room to do something impactful,” Beltzer continues. “People are embracing the notion of growing their own salads and getting back to more nutritionally complete food.”

Neil Pond, owner of Urban Landscaping in Rothesay, N.B., says that a large deer population and the bedroom communities of Saint John have clashed in the last five years. People are building fences to protect their gardens.

“There has been a growing trend of planting deer-resistant plants and invisible-looking mesh fences to help keep deer out,” Pond says. “But the deer population hasn’t necessarily deterred people from pursuing old-fashioned gardening.”
As people take on larger projects to spruce up their backyards, Pond insists the public shouldn’t underestimate the importance that decks play in making the backyard feel like home.

“People are definitely breaking out of the cookie-cutter rectangular decks that many home builders attach to a home,” Pond says. “We are seeing an increasing amount of people that are renovating their existing deck or adding defined spaces, like a cooking area or additional recreational space. When it comes to carving out a space for relaxing or socializing, we’re seeing larger wicker sectionals and chairs furnishing decks. People want to bring the comfort of the indoors outside.”

In the quest to create the perfect outdoor space, where they won’t be affected by the elements, Pond says many people are installing pergolas and gazebos. Not only can the structures help keep people and furniture dry, a set of curtains can help homeowners control the environment more so than if they were out in the open. With the addition of some LED lighting, you can create the perfect atmosphere for your outdoor getaway.

But if splurging on major renovations to your yard just isn’t in the cards, fear not. Even relatively cost-effective projects can add some zip to a tired-looking yard.

“There are still a lot of people using mulch around garden to help suppress weeds, but also create a contrast between the garden and the lawn,” Pond says. “Perennials remain a big seller and are ideal for someone that might not have the time to dedicate to a high maintenance kind of plant.”

Whether you’re experienced with sprucing up the homestead, or just getting your feet wet, there are all kinds of projects to keep you busy for the summer months.

How to hire a landscaper

Pamela Beltzer of Heritage Landscaping in Lunenburg, N.S. offers advice to help make hiring a landscaper simple.

References. “While you can generally take comfort in a company that has been established for quite some time, most reputable companies will have a list of references to provide you. Even better, some landscapers will go on tour with prospective clients for a couple of hours to showcase the work they’ve done at different homes in the area.”

Word of mouth. “Don’t just try to speak with people that have hired a specific company. While that input is valuable, supply and landscaping companies as well as hardware companies can be a great resource in helping find the right people in your region.”

Trust your gut. “Hiring a professional to take on a project is a lot like picking a paint colour: A big part of it is gut instinct. If you’ve got someone that is a good listener and seems genuinely vested and interested in helping achieve your goals, chances are they will be a good fit for the project.”

Consult the professionals. It’s always a good idea to consult professional landscaping organizations like Landscape New Brunswick & Landscape Prince Edward Island, Landscape Nova Scotia and Landscape NL. A quick check of a company’s status with the local Better Business Bureau is also recommended for maximum peace of mind.

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