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From the editor: Give your outdoor living space an overhaul

In terms of home renovations, I think homeowners firstly think of how to improve the inside of their home. Kitchens get outdated, the floors need to be changed. But what about the outdoors? Isn’t it the first thing people see? Besides, you want your home to make a good first impression. That’s why we spent the month writing about outdoor landscaping. Here’s what you should know.

It’s the end of April. The weather is nicer outside, which is why it’s time for homeowners to shift their attention to outdoor renovations. After all, the summer season only lasts so long and you want to maximize the time you have! But before we get to a round-up of outdoor living ideas, you need to give your outdoor spaces a major overhaul.Capture

Wash away the remnants of winter!

If your outdoor space could talk – big or small, already decorated or in need of some furniture and landscaping – it would tell you it needs a little TLC. Why? Our outdoor spaces take a major beating in harsh winters. With warmer and sunny weekends ahead, rally up the troops (family, friends, whoever you can get your hands on!) and get working outside! Here are the top outdoor priorities that need your attention – long before you can perfect your outdoor space with our other tips!

  1. Clean exterior windows. No, it isn’t a glamorous job, but with the sun out and shining, don’t you want to have that light streaming indoors? Not to mention, that awful winter weather can leave quite a layer of residue on your windows. Windows within reach are easy to clean with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, but for really high windows, check out our story on cleaning exterior windows. We included a list of tools you’ll need and a video demonstrating how to do it!
  2. Organize the garage. It’s time to put the snow blower and shovel away! Tuck your winter items away in the garage and bring out the summer tools. Doing a bit of organizing will ensure the tools you need for the season are easily accessible, making your spring/summer DIY projects that much easier. Who wants to spend all their free time looking for equipment when you can find the tools and get the job done quickly and efficiently? Remember – summer doesn’t last that long!
  3. Power wash the driveway. Before people start coming over, you’ll want to rid your driveway of weeds growing through the cracks. Pull them out and take a pressure washer to the driveway to remove that build-up of dirt and grime.

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Need some help? We have a directory of house cleaning professionals, landscaping contractors and handyman service professionals who specialize in finishing those home projects.

Now, onto building that outdoor living space…

That’s a good start, but we’re not done yet! An equally important aspect of your home is the outdoors – and yet, it’s often overlooked. From my experience and research, that’s because of a few reasons:

  • Homeowners are afraid of how much outdoor renovations will cost;
  • There isn’t enough time in the year to enjoy the outdoors;
  • It’s not easy to find a reputable contractor to do the work.

Let me start by saying this – outdoor renovations are absolutely worth the price tag, but it doesn’t have to be expensive! There are so many beautiful ways of updating the exterior of your home without spending a lot of money. Yes, summer is short, but then again, wouldn’t you be more inclined to use your outdoor spaces more if they were properly equipped for entertaining and enjoyment. Some food for thought.

Here are the reasons WHY your outdoor property needs landscaping:

  • It’s the first thing people will notice about your home. If you’re selling your home in the near future, you want future home buyers to be immediately attracted to the property, enticing them to walk into your house. This begins with the exterior look of your home. Even if you don’t have plans to sell your property, the outside will still leave a lasting impression on visitors and passersby.
  • It adds value to your property. The whole point of a home renovation is to add dollar value to your home. Landscaping does just that and can increase the value of your home by up to 20 percent.

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Not sure where to start? That’s no problem. Here’s a guide on how to get started:

Your Ultimate Landscaping Plan

Of course, we recommend you speak with a landscaper about your outdoor landscaping plans. After all, aren’t they the experts?! But you can start thinking about what you want for your outdoor space and it doesn’t include picking out plants.

  • What’s the purpose of the yard? Will the space be used to host parties, or are you looking for a relaxing space to spend time with family? If you have kids, will you want a spot for swings or other accessories? Answer these questions and you’ll have an idea of how to proceed with your plan.

Here are some things I will consider in the future when planning out my outdoor living space:

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  • Come up with a budget. This will probably be the hardest part of your outdoor living renovation project. Why? There are so many things to include in the budget! From flowers, to patio furniture, lighting and more, all of these aspects should be considered. But you need to be comfortable with what you’re spending. Come up with a number you’re comfortable spending and speak to a landscaper about how to make it happen.
  • Don’t do everything in one shot. The best part of an outdoor renovation is you can take time with it. If you didn’t a set of patio furniture you like, wait until next season! Better yet, wait until the end of season, buy what you like on sale and keep it for next year. You don’t have to rush. Take your time perfecting your outdoor living space.

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What about budget?

Creating a budget is one of the toughest aspects of backyard renovations. How do you decide how much to spend and on what?

Homeowners should expect to spent anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent of the current value of the home on landscaping. This includes a patio, walkway, grading, soil and flowerbeds.

Check out this list of average prices for your typical backyard features:

  • Outdoor kitchen – $2,000 to $10,000
  • Swimming pool – $20,000 to $55,000
  • Fire pit – $1,200 to $4,000

Danilo of Royal Town Landscaping says a patio can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $7,000.

“The interlock pavers range in price between $4 to $5 per square foot,” he says of the material.

If a home were 60 feet deep by 40 feet, a homeowner should expect to spend at least $2,000 on plants and planting, says Danilo.

Here’s an example of how much money you should budget for which part of the renovation*:

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This landscaping budget sheet will help you develop your own budget**:

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But landscaping doesn’t have to be a costly project. Danny of VLB Grounds Maintenance says there are two ways of doing landscaping. “You blow your brains out and do it all in one shot, or you take your time doing it,” he says, adding it doesn’t matter how much money is in your cheque book. By taking their time to add trees, shrubbery, flower beds and other landscaping pieces, they’ll actually enjoy the space more. Otherwise, they may make a decision and regret the look of it having done the project in one season.

Danny uses this example: “I’m going to throw out a number. If a homeowner says I have $5,000 to spend on landscaping, I’ll tell them what I envision and we can add or take away from there.”

While this landscaper stresses the importance of having a budget, Danny says adding to one’s outdoor living space each season is a better way of maximizing one’s budget and lets homeowners enjoy the process much more than they would doing the project quickly.

He’ll work directly with homeowners to ensure they’re receiving what they want at the price they want to spend.

His most important piece of advice: do a little bit at a time.

Now that you’re thinking about outdoor renovations, let’s talk about what you can do to make it look spectacular! We have a large directory of landscaping contractors who specialize in landscaping and design. They’ll be able to make your landscaping dreams come to life!

Transforming your space

There are some seriously brilliant ways you can make your outdoor space the best it can be. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, nor does it have to be labour-intensive.

Build a garden

Having a garden in your backyard is not only a great way to add colourful flowers to the property – or grow some very tasty vegetables! – but a garden immediately creates a sense of tranquility. The colours and heights of plants can make it the focal point of your outdoor space. Plus, it’s a nice summer hobby to take up!

Ready to get gardening? Frankie Flowers tells us how to get started!

Add a swimming pool

If gardening isn’t your thing, but you want to maximize the amount of time you spend outdoors, consider having a swimming pool installed in your backyard. It’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the hot sun by being able to dip your feet into the cool water. But there’s one small problem: you may have a revolving door of guests looking for some heat wave relief!

Take a look at our pool contractors and designers directory. They’ can help you plan out the space for it!

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Last but not least, give your lawn a makeover!

When you’re driving down the street, the last thing you want to see is a beaten down lawn full of brown, bruised patches. Your lawn is tired from winter and needs your help!

To restore it to its original beauty, you need to do these three things:

  • Use a lawn roller to literally row over the lawn. It squeezes out excess water and levels it.
  • Aerate the lawn. The aerator cuts cores out of the lawn, giving it the ability to breathe and loosen up.
  • Use a dethatcher. It pulls up old grass clippings matted in the lawn.

Now you have all the tools and advice you need to make the most of your outdoor living space. It’ll be your home’s best summer yet! Our directory of landscaping contractors will be able to help you with your summer project!

More in Outdoor Living

Lawn look like this? How to prim and prep it for the season ahead

Turn your garden into a money-saving tool with the right plants

*/**Source: Common Sense Landscaping



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