Last 4th of July in the Hudson Valley, the mercury topped 93 degrees, with the average local temperature for Independence Day a full 14 degrees higher than it was 50 years ago.
While they have deleterious effects on the planet, warming global temperatures have extended the temperate outdoor season for Hudson Valley residents. Outdoor living spaces have always been a part of West Coast culture, and they are now growing in popularity in the Northeast, as the balmy days have people heading to their yards to sit under the stars and listen to the tree frogs.
“More people than ever are staying home and entertaining in their backyards,” says Kim Williams, of Williams Lumber & Home Centers. It’s not just grilling on the 4th of July, it’s breakfast on the patio, dinner under the pergola, and a bottle of wine with friends and children making s’mores by the firepit. “More and more people are doing staycations and realizing they can turn their backyard into an extension of their living space.”
While creating a patio or a deck might sound like a significant investment (of both time and money), Williams advises people to create a plan to help you execute a successful project. “So often people think, ‘Oh I could never undertake this, it’s too expensive, I don’t know how to do this,’ but if every year you start a little project, then eventually you can turn your dreams into reality,” she says. “One year build your deck, the next year go add a retaining wall, then depending on your outdoor living space, you can create entrances and walkways, pool decks, and garden beds. The possibilities are endless.”
“One year build your deck, the next year go add a retaining wall, then depending on your outdoor living space, you can create entrances and walkways, pool decks, and garden beds. The possibilities are endless.”
The key to creating a backyard oasis over the years, is to choose durable materials that will survive the elements and require little maintenance. Popularized by high-performance brands like Trex, composite decking has seen enormous growth since its introduction in the ’90s. While more expensive than treated lumber, this practical option is scratch-, mold-, and fade-resistant and requires little upkeep, making it perfect for a deck, dock, or covered porch.
Made from pressed wood (wood chips, sawdust, wood fiber) and plastic, some brands of composite decking use recycled materials while others use new plastic. There are several manufacturers offering a wide array of colors, styles, and textures to create the look you want. You can also choose your assembly method from hidden fasteners to special color matched screws to concealed countersunk screws and plugs.
If you are looking to add a touch of elegance to your outdoor living space, pavers echo the timeless, rustic charm of natural stone while offering a durable and uniform solution for hardscaping. “Pavers don’t even have to be a patio,” Williams says. “They can be around your pool or a path through the garden. You can start with one thing and continually add onto it.”
Pavers come in a range of sizes and styles that can imitate anything from bluestone to red brick to “Turfstone.” They are also sturdier and will hold up well in unprotected areas that experience the full fury of the seasons. Whether your project is big or small, pavers from a trusted brand can make the job easy, like Unilock, the first North American company to manufacture concrete pavers.
“The composite Unilock uses is made from recycled material,” Williams says. “Some of their pavers are even permeable, so water will pass through stone rather than just running off. More homeowners are using this type of paver as a greener choice to help direct rainwater away from storm sewer systems and back into the natural ecosystem.”
People tend to think of pavers as being just for paths or patios, but they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be used for a wide range of applications. You can use them to create a retaining structure that can act as either a permanent planter for shrubs and flowers or an elegant firepit.
Build in architectural features to your landscape using pavers like pillars, steps, waterfalls, or walls. Pavers can make the foundation for a swanky outdoor kitchen setup. Unilock offers non-slip pavers that are perfect for poolside areas. Their modular system allows for easy access to plumbing lines, while being impervious to chlorine or other pool salts.
“Both Unilock and Trex are premier brands that offer all the bells and whistles of the latest technology. Trex and Unilock are the perfect choice for your project,” Williams says. “Use them to turn your backyard into an everyday paradise.”
Williams Lumber has eight locations throughout the Hudson Valley, including two kitchen and bath showrooms.