HERNDON, Va., May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The start of summer means entertaining friends and families, hosting cookouts and barbeques, and spending time outdoors. These days, the backyard has become an extension of the family room and kitchen.
According to a U.S. online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), spending on decks and patios has been on the increase. Consumers reported they intended to spend 37 percent more in 2013 to hire professional help for patios and other hardscape and specialty services.
The experts at PLANET, the national landscape industry association, offer their top five ideas to transform an ordinary yard into the ultimate retreat, family fun, or entertaining space this summer.
Add an Outdoor Kitchen. Outdoor kitchens have been growing in popularity for years and are often the center of family life in the summer. They can be as extensive as a complete kitchen made of stone, brick, or concrete pavers with a stove, stone or brick oven, counters, and even a sink or refrigerator, or they can be as compact as a patio with a grill and table. There are a wide variety of options for every space, purpose, and price range.
Add Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor lighting highlights a home's landscape, special trees, as well as walkways and porches, providing both curb appeal and safety. "Nightscaping" makes gathering spaces usable and enjoyable for entertaining after dark. Landscape professionals can design lighting to complement or highlight important areas of the yard, and there are a variety of basic do-it-yourself options, such as adding a set of solar walkway lights.
Add a Fire Feature. A portable fire pit or chiminea, or building a stone fireplace into the deck or patio extends the time people can spend in their backyards, making a cozy entertaining space on summer nights or well into the fall and winter.
Add a Water Feature. Water features, ranging from small fountains to ponds, streams, or water walls, create a sense of peace and calm, help people connect with nature, and may attract wildlife.
Create a Wildflower or Herb Garden. Wildflowers or herbs make great container gardens or ground cover. They are beautiful and smell great. Many home chefs grow their own herbs and many landscape companies now create edible gardens for clients. These gardens are also a benefit for the environment and for wildlife, providing food and safe cover for small animals.
"Outdoor living spaces have evolved from a grill and a picnic table to lavishly landscaped patios and decks with couches, lounge areas and dining spaces under shaded arches, trellises, and porticos," said Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP, CEO of PLANET. "It is a trend that we expect to continue indefinitely. Americans have had a long love affair with the backyard barbeque, and now, they are taking it to the next level."
For more ideas about creating the ultimate backyard this summer, or to hire a pro near you visit www.loveyourlandscape.com.
PLANET is the national trade association representing more than 100,000 landscape industry professionals, who create and maintain healthy, green living spaces for communities across America. PLANET members are committed to the highest standards in industry education, best practices and business professionalism. Many of PLANET's professionals have attained the status of becoming Landscape Industry Certified, achieving the greatest level of industry expertise and knowledge. Visit PLANET at www.landcarenetwork.org