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Improve Your Backyard for the New Year

Backyard Home Improvements

Happy New Year! Now is the time to start making those annual New Year resolutions - lose weight, eat better, get paid more, take more time for you... How about making a resolution that you can really see a difference? Improvements to your pool area can be extremely satisfying. Home ownership is a year-round job. The changing of the season signals new decisions that need to be made about the house, yard and swimming pool.

The winter is the best time to start planning home improvement ventures for the spring and summer seasons. Colder months often signal cheaper prices for outdoor products and tools. So, while you are stuck inside with the chill of winter, start planning and researching your next home improvement project for the backyard. Here are a few suggestions:

Landscaping and Gardening

Landscaping and Gardening

Landscaping is about more than just planting a few flowers and bushes around your yard. It's about planning and creating a pool environment that’s easy to get to — and hard to leave. Your first step is to get inspired. It can be a movie, a native flower or a planter you just couldn’t resist. If you grow plants that are tall enough, they will form privacy screens around the pool area. But plants must be chosen wisely. Strive for low-maintenance plants. For instance, you don't want large deciduous trees around swimming pools, as you will end up constantly fishing leaves out of the water. Even needle-bearing evergreen trees can be messy. Plants and trees provide beauty and privacy around the yard. They soften the harsh lines of hardscapes and blend the flora more naturally with the surrounding environment.

Retaining walls can help turn "ordinary" landscaping into amazing works of art. Many homes have been built on sloped ground, and while the home itself is level, the gardens or yards have been left on the sloped ground. In this situation many owners prefer to have the slope leveled off into sections to provide, for example, flat play areas for the kids, barbecue areas and flat flower and vegetable beds, with steps leading down to each area. Retaining walls have to be able not only to hold the weight of earth behind and above them, but also to allow drainage in the event of a storm.

Swimming Pool

There is nothing else that can transform your yard like an inground swimming pool. Whether you envision a tranquil lagoon, exotic oasis, or elegant showcase, building an inground pool gives you the most opportunities to customize, express your creativity, and design a poolscape that is completely unique and absolutely stunning.

Inspired pool lighting can extend your poolside entertaining well into the evening. By using a combination of low-profile lights around the pool’s perimeter and colorful underwater and fiber optic lights in the pool, you can provide subtle poolside illumination for those that want to just relax and a dynamic display for swimmers.

Deck and Patio

Your deck gives you even more opportunities to design an inviting environment. You can create a simple and beautiful space for lounging, or a multi-level, outdoor living area for entertaining. Decking materials come in an exciting array of beautiful textures, designs and styles — wood, tile, concrete, stone, pavers and composite materials are some of the most common.

Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces

Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces

A fire feature tends to be one of the most popular outdoor accompaniments during a backyard improvement project. Fireplaces and fire pits have become popular because of their ability to be the center point of an evening of fun, with everyone sitting and talking around the fire. A fire pit is one of the most common fire features and has become a standard backyard installation. Fire pits range in various shapes and sizes. An outdoor fire pit can be wood burning or setup for natural gas or propane. A wood fire pit makes for a great evening, but requires cleanup, so most homeowners tend to prefer the quick and easy gas setup. A fireplace is the best way to make a statement in any backyard landscaping or pool project. This gorgeous focal feature can take on the design and feel of the house, backyard, or patio. A fireplace is more of a daily focal feature but as the night cools off, it becomes the center of the party. The fireplace sets on the edge of the patio, whereas the fire pit sits in the center. With that being said, the fireplace can allow more patio space for landscape projects.