You’ve worked hard creating your space in the world – renovating, paving, waste bin hire and many weekends making sure your backyard is the perfect place to kick back and relax –
and want to lap it up as much as you can. But what do you do when the neighbours build a second-storey that looks directly over where you like to sunbathe? Or what about on those cold, stormy nights? There’s a fix for anything, so take a read as it’s time to reclaim your backyard!
Most Aussies love their backyard – the place of BBQs and entertaining, the place for sitting and enjoying a book in peace, or the area that keeps the kids entertained while wearing them out. Whatever your reason for loving the back yard, you will always want privacy.
Chatting to friendly neighbours is lovely, but sometimes you want to be able to play or sunbathe without having people peering over the fence at you. If you feel like your yard isn’t as usable as it could be because of privacy issues, there’s a few things you can do.
The best thing to do is create a screening wall of hedges. Make sure you choose an evergreen hedge as there isn’t much point planting something as a privacy screen, only to have it lose all it’s leaves every autumn and winter.
If your yard isn’t big enough for a hedge try building a nice screen with lattice, stones or extending the existing fence upwards. Make the wall a feature of your garden by adding planter boxes or outdoor artwork. If room permits, you could even add a water feature – that way you get privacy AND relaxation!
Building an alfresco living area off the back of your house is the most effective way to continue enjoying the outdoors, even in a downpour. An alfresco generally consists of a paved area with a sturdy cover. Usually this is where you BBQ, benches, tables and chairs will go, so you can cook and eat dinner outside no matter what the forecast. If you have a really well protected alfresco you can install a TV on one of the walls, meaning you don’t even have to go inside to watch the big game.
If an alfresco doesn’t quite fit within budget, you can invest in a shade sail or large umbrella instead. These won’t help in really strong rain or storms, but they will mean that a light drizzle won’t have you running for the indoors either.
Another way to protect your backyard from rain is to have a good drainage system. You can have all of the overhead cover that you want, but walking out onto soggy grass for days after a rainstorm can be miserable. If you get a good drainage system, you will find the grass gets enough water to be well-fed, but not so much that it stays soaking for days.
Once you have rain-proofed your outdoor area, you might find you are still heading for indoors during winter simply because it is too cold to stay in the backyard. This can be easily fixed by bringing some heating to your backyard.
Outdoor heaters are and there are so many options to choose from. You can have freestanding gas heaters that you can move around the yard to wherever you happen to be sitting each night, or you can install heaters into the roof of your outdoor cover. Both options can give out some great heat meaning you can still be outdoors at night in winter rather than having to be stuffed up inside.
There are also some great outdoor fire options these days too. An open fire outside can be so much fun, especially on those cold winter nights. You can buy really safe outdoor fires that keep the flame fully contained, and they look great as a backyard feature too.
Australia is great, we have an amazing climate most of the year round. But the catch-22 is that in summer sometimes the heat can actually be too much! Have you ever wished you could sit outside in the middle of a scorching summers day only to find it is way too hot and you are afraid of getting sunburnt? You can get past this by installing a shade cloth over part of your yard to make sure you always have somewhere to escape the direct sun. Or head to your local nursery and pick up a nice shady tree to plant in the corner of the backyard. If you have children, put their play equipment under the branches of the tree so their toys and slides aren’t too hot to touch in the middle of summer. Install a fan under the cover so that you can sit and feel a nice cool breeze even on the balmiest of evenings.