Watch the home improvement channels, such as HGTV or DIY Network, for more than an hour and there’s a good possibility that some great new ideas will be presented for the “largest room in the house”—the backyard. While this outdoor oasis has been popular since rural families started moving to urban areas, there have been many changes in the form and function of the backyard, and custom home builders have taken notice.
“A relaxing, low maintenance backyard is definitely on the wish list of our clients,” said Dan Fuller of Haley Custom Homes in Denver. “However, it has to be more than merely functional. It needs to be beautiful and accessible year round. This requires a great deal of planning because the weather in Denver can be extreme. ”
A recent article in “Garden Design Magazine” highlighted several trends in backyard design that homeowners are requesting. These include:
- An interest in using natural materials for the yard and garden
- Hyperlocal choices of plants and building materials
- Lawns that don’t require much moisture and regular mowing
- Mixing old and new styles
- Technology driven irrigation and water features
Natural Materials are in Demand for Backyards
The trend of using natural materials on the outside home is consistent with that same trend on its interior. Railway ties, brick walls, large stone water features and other natural materials are showing up in many upscale backyards. Jay Cox of Acme Brick thinks he knows why this trend is so prevalent.
“We are surrounded by artificial and ‘virtual realities’ every day, especially in a high-tech area like Denver,” Jay said. “When someone finally makes it home and heads for the backyard to unwind, they want to see and feel something that is authentic and real.
“Brick has many remarkable, natural attributes, including its ‘beauty and brawn’ aspect and its many color shades. This makes it a perfect complement to decorative plants and gardens. Brick walls or other backyard structures also exude a feeling of permanence that is often missing in our fast-paced, throw-away lifestyle.”
“Hyperlocal” is the new Watchword for Sustainable Yards
As noted above, savvy custom homeowners want to enjoy their backyards all year long. This makes the choice of plants and the landscaping challenging. It encourages builders, such as Haley Custom Homes, to focus on ‘hyperlocalism’ for plants and backyard structures.
“We work with local horticulture experts to help our clients choose plants that will survive and thrive in the hot summers and fiercely cold winters of Denver,” Dan noted. “This includes blue spruce, pine trees, Kentucky blue grass, annuals and perennials.”
This trend toward locally sourced materials is also evident in the choice of brick pavers Haley Custom Homes uses for the paths and seating areas.
“The clay pavers from Acme Brick are not only made from native Colorado clay and are fired locally in Castle Rock but they are far superior to cement, which can crack when exposed to weather extremes. Plus, if something damages these pavers, they can easily be replaced. We use these pavers to build pathways that enable the homeowner to ‘meander’ around the backyard,” he said.
Downsizing the Lawn
Having a backyard that includes a vast expanse of green lawn is going the way of the rotary dial telephone. This is due to recurring droughts, concerns about chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and other man-made problems. Nowadays, many custom home builders are advising their clients to consider native grasses and grass mixes that don’t require as much water or regular mowing. A good example of this is Habiturf™,which thrives in the Southwest.
Wildflowers, native to Colorado, are also becoming a part of the panoply of colors that luxury homeowners favor. A short-grass meadow of native grass and wildflowers, surrounded by smaller parcels of traditional green lawns, is an excellent combination for a contemporary backyard.
Mashing up Styles
For several years, interior designers have shown that mixing old and new, the modern and traditional styles, results in a great contemporary look. This “mashup” trend has come to the backyard of custom homes. The trick to this new design trend is to mix the styles in a compelling manner. This means that a modern chair, sitting on a traditional brick patio can make for a very cool look!
Putting Technology to Work
The Denver area has become a mecca for high-tech businesses, their owners and employees. That penchant towards technology is being put to good use in their backyards. Low-water landscaping and technological advances in irrigation, such as ‘smart controllers,’ are allowing custom home owners to monitor and control yard and garden irrigation from their mobile phone. These tools can also detect leaks and deliver less or greater water to specific areas, depending on the plant requirements.
Water features such as fountains are also easily controlled with hand-held technology. In many cases, these water features are used to mitigate urban noise. Since most Haley Custom Homes are located in quiet neighborhoods, these water features are not necessary for noise reduction but rather used as an architectural extension of the home.
What’s the Tab?
There is little doubt that designing the “largest room in the house” is an important consideration for anyone interested in building their dream home. The price for realizing this luxury backyard will cost the homeowner about $150,000. Well worth it for an outside oasis.
Would you like to know more about building your dream home? Contact Dan Fuller at Haley Custom Homes to make your dream home a reality.