4 Tips for Designing a Better Backyard

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Anyone who has a backyard has no doubt dreamed of transforming their green space into an oasis of enjoyment. Designing a space where family and friends spend their days, however, requires more forethought than simply setting up a grill and a hammock in the yard. As with many home improvement projects, the key to success is to envision the long-term result and plan out a realistic path to get there.

“Designing an outdoor space that’s tailor-made for your family’s needs and lifestyle is the best way to make the most of your backyard and enjoy the beautiful Hudson Valley weather,” says Kim Williams, Senior VP of Williams Lumber & Home Centers. With seven locations, including two kitchen and bath showrooms in Pleasant Valley and Rhinebeck, Williams has been a go-to source for home improvement in the Hudson Valley since 1946.

“No matter your budget or the size of your project, our expert team can guide you through all the steps and help you create an outdoor space that you will enjoy for years to come,” Williams says.

Here are four steps that Williams recommends for taking any backyard from hassle to haven.

Design in Zones

Whether it’s sprawling acreage in the country or a petite patch of urban yard, Williams says a key first step is to think of designing in zones. Much the same way the flow of a house is determined by the relationship of its rooms, an outdoor project should also start with determining the location and function of each area and thinking about how they connect. Think dining area, casual living space, fire pit hang zone, vegetable or flower gardens, or kids’ play space. “Even small yards benefit from creating multiple, distinct entertaining areas,” says Williams. “This way, you can maximize the potential of your space and ensure there’s always something for everyone to enjoy while outside.”

Images courtesy of Trex.

For many people, a major zone to plan around is an existing or long-dreamed-of deck that makes transitioning between indoors and out seamless. Ready to build a new deck to anchor the backyard? Williams’ go-to is USA-made Trex. The company’s eco-friendly composite decking is an innovative blend of 95 percent reclaimed wood and plastic that resists fading, scratches, and almost anything Mother Nature has to offer.

Trex offers a wide array of design possibilities, from simple ground-level options that create a cohesive look with surrounding garden beds or an in-ground pool to sophisticated balconies perfect for birdwatching and stargazing. Or consider a multi-level configuration that can host an outdoor kitchen and living room, hot tub, garden area, and more.

Use Hardscaping to Tie Spaces Together

After the spaces are defined, Williams says the next step is to create movement based on how the various areas connect together. “Walkways, patios, and walls are clever ways to create fluidity in the backyard and achieve a cohesive design that’s pleasing to the eye,” she says.

Images courtesy of Trex.

Williams loves the creative possibilities that are available from Cambridge Hardscapes and Outdoor Living Products because they echo the timeless, rustic charm of natural stone or brick while offering a durable and low-maintenance solution for hardscaping. Even better, Cambridge’s interlocking pavement systems with ArmorTec and wall systems are Earth-friendly and recyclable. “They can be used around your pool area, to create a garden path, or even for your driveway,” Williams says. “They can also be used to create steps in a sloped yard or for smaller features, such as raised garden beds.”

Most importantly, she says, there’s no need to accomplish everything at once. “That’s the beauty of hardscapes,” she says. “Each year you can expand your project to accommodate your needs and achieve your ultimate paradise.”

Add a Feature Design Element or Two

The most enjoyable backyards are ones that not only emphasize functionality, but pure pleasure too. Williams recommends adding at least one feature element that takes the enjoyment of the space to the next level. A fire pit area for s’mores, a burbling waterfall or fountain in the garden, or a pergola for shading a hammock or other seating area are all wow-worthy options that are easier to add than one might think.

Kim Williams, SVP of Williams Lumber & Home Centers, recommends adding a feature element that takes the enjoyment of an outdoor space to the next level, such as a fireplace, fire pit, fountain, or pergola. Images courtesy of Trex.

“Cambridge offers pre-packaged kits for waterfalls, fountains, fireplaces, and fire pits so it’s easy to match your existing paver patio or walkway, or create an elegant stand-alone feature in the backyard,” Williams says. “Trex offers deck pergola kits in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as custom options, from bold modern colors to elegant white complete with classically inspired columns.”     

Add a Permanent Outdoor Kitchen

Few things are better about summer in the Hudson Valley than grilling outdoors and enjoying meals with friends and family set against stunning sunsets. For the passionate home chef, Williams recommends designing an area with a permanent outdoor kitchen to make meal prep and cooking easier and more enjoyable.

“You can add an outdoor kitchen to your paver patio or near the pool for a seamless transition between your indoor and outdoor living spaces,” she says. “Cambridge offers stone veneer outdoor kitchen kits. They come complete with a stainless steel appliance package that includes a grill, refrigerator, and warming tray. You can use Cambridge pavers to design your own outdoor kitchen perfect for showcasing a new Japanese-style ceramic smoker from Kamado Joe or all-in-one electric pellet grill from Traeger or Weber.”

No matter what a homeowner’s idea of their dream backyard is, the experts at Williams Lumber & Home Centers are ready to help. Discover all the possibilities and make a plan to finally enjoy summer to the fullest with a visit to one of Williams’ seven locations throughout the Hudson Valley.

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