With changing lifestyles, more people spend money on their outdoor living environments such that leisure time is spent cooking and lounging in a backyard or an open area which extends the traditional home. What are some of the most popular landscape and garden retreat ideas you should consider to make your home as lovely outdoors as inside?

Outdoor Dining is high on almost everyone’s list. But it’s not just dining; it’s about creating a whole outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens can be pricey and extensive projects, as the notion is really extending your home’s living space to take advantage of your yard and better weather. If you don’t have the budget for a full built-in gas grill and gas burners, a good old fashioned charcoal grill still cooks up a great meal. Of course your second kitchen is made even more functional with a covered countertop, sink, and small refrigerator.

Temperature Comfort – depending on the time of year and your geography, the outdoor temperature can be regulated to increase or decrease by up to 10 degrees. On dreary mornings or cool evening, outdoor heat sources can provide a cozy spot for lounging and entertaining. Portable outdoor heaters, once only commercially available, are now common place as backyard appliances. You’ll also find a variety of portable fire pits or bowls that can be a very affordable accent for providing warmth and ambiance. If heat and humidity are your challenge, cool down with ceiling or wall mounted fans, portable fans, and water misters

Running Water – while I personally favor year-round use of a swimming pool, they are not conducive to all climates, yards, or budgets. Unless you are situated on a lake or next to a mountain stream to enjoy gurgling water, you can easily add a tabletop fountain to get a similar smoothing sound. With a larger budget, consider a professionally installed fountain or pond at your patio’s edge.

Overhead Structures – the terms will vary around the world but overhead structures provide definition to your outdoor space and a place to shelter you from the elements. Structures like a gazebo, arbor, sala, or pergola are typically standalone while screened porches or sunrooms are attached to the main building. With engineering advancements in fabric, you can also look to have a custom shade built to cover any portion of your outdoor space. Be sure to check with your local planning or building department to understand the building and electrical permit requirements.

Mother Nature – plants, rocks, stone paving, walls and other earthen elements help bring out the best of Mother Nature and anchor your space. Trees, shrubs, flowers may change throughout the year and require more care and annual replanting. You can incorporate indoor items like carpets and furniture, made for the outdoors, because of durable and weather-resistant fabrics and materials.

Your work is not complete, although you’ve got the lawn in; garden bed planted and strategically placed boulders. Outdoor lighting for dusk and evening viewing and use will complete your masterpiece. Extend the beauty of the day, yet enhance the ambience and intrigue with carefully positioned lights to guide your eyes around your property.

There are three types of lights used for landscaping. High voltage lighting fixtures are the most expensive as you typically need to be concerned with the added labor cost for installation by an electrical contractor. Low-voltage lighting is considered a ‘do-it-yourself’ system and has a lower cost.

Solar powered or photovoltaic (PV) devices are the least expensive option for your landscape lighting needs. A solar light takes advantage of the sun’s rays hence your only real cost is only the initial outlay for the garden fixture. If you need to light a darkened area of your yard where the solar light does not receive sufficient sunlight, a solar panel could be added. Batteries are also utilized in some solar garden lights to assist with inadequate sunlight.

Landscape lighting can be very striking when used in certain situations; it can create ambiance, as well as, provide for security. If overused, however, it may become too overwhelming and not highlight the appropriate things you wish to feature. You should plan to showcase only a few of the major elements of your garden or yard to create a more visually effective and cost efficient result.

If you do have a gazebo, pergola, or patio deck to light, you’ll find a number of flush mounted up or down lights to choose from. You can also illuminate your beautiful decking with inexpensive coloured halogen or LED lamps. Decking lights will add an extra focal point to your evening’s entertainment.

And one final word for those of you in warmer climates, no matter what type of landscape lighting you choose, those lights may attract a fair amount of bugs, so consider a bug zapper on your shopping list of electrical appliances.

Source: http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_4981.shtml

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