Paradise in your own backyard

With a few small additions, or a major makeover, create a heavenly hideaway that's just for you.

With a few small additions – or a complete makeover – your yard can become your personal oasis.

With daylight lasting well into the evenings and warmer-than-usual temperatures in recent weeks, it’s the time of year to ditch your living room and spend some time outside.

But if your backyard is in a state that’s more horror show than haven, perhaps it’s time to give your yard an overhaul and create the outdoor oasis you’ve always wanted.

According to Michael Bjorge, landscape designer and owner of Pacifica Landscape Works in South Surrey, the main goal when redesigning a backyard is to make it into a livable space, transforming it into an extension of the home.

Depending on the scope of what a homeowner wants to do in their yard, there are small additions, as well as large-scale redesigns, to accomplish just that.

“Sometimes it can be a matter of simply excavating an area out and putting in a patio,” Bjorge explained, noting things like crushed gravel with inset flag stones are a non-labour-intensive way to create a patio space. “You don’t have to go extravagant or expensive to do that.”

Another simple and cost-effective element to add to a backyard is something that creates a focal point, Bjorge said. This could be by way of a fire pit, fountain or even a large, decorative rock.

“Rocks as features, they create a sense of permanency, and you don’t have to maintain them,” he pointed out.

If your yard needs a major makeover, however, Bjorge has some lavish large-scale ideas to create a peaceful piece of paradise for you and your family.

Additions ranging from multi-level, terraced patios to outdoor kitchens and resort-style swimming pools complete with infinity edges.

“We’ve done some very high-end spas that are all done in rock work to emulate a natural hot springs, with waterfalls coming into it,” Bjorge said.

A swim-up tiki bar will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the tropics, while a customized rock grotto will create a romantic ambience reminiscent of a luxury spa.

Add some bold outdoor furniture and a sleek gazebo for a little extra shade, and you’ve got the makings of your very own sanctuary, without having to leave home.

Not to be forgotten in the design process, according to Bjorge, is your backyard’s lighting, one of the most important components of any redesign.

“If you’re putting all this money into a landscape, you don’t want it to just shut off at night,” he explained. “You want it to be functional and create sight lines from the interior.”

Of the utmost importance, Bjorge highlighted, is making sure every aspect of your project is planned ahead of time, with details ironed out before the work commences.

Having a plan on paper will help you to visualize the finished product, and see what different options might look like before the installation begins.

“It’s far cheaper to make changes on paper, versus on site.”

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