Evolution of the Backyard

Yard Crashers Workshop

Day two of the International Builders Show and there is still so much to see, do, and learn. I just now finished a workshop on the changing landscape of outdoor landscaping put on by the host of DIY Network’s Yard Crashers, Ahmed Hassan.


Hassan touched on the trend of the backyard becoming an extension of the home, and not just a place we stick a bbq and a swing set, but a living space with all the comforts, and aesthetic style we put into our indoor spaces. According to Hassan, “People want it all in their backyard design.” The two most popular features requested of him from his clients are fire features, and water features. A recent study by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) agrees. According to a recent study conducted by the ASLA, outdoor living spaces rank highest on homeowner wish lists for remodeling projects this year, with fire pits, and outdoor fireplaces as the second most requested features and items for the outdoor space. Adding a fire feature in an outdoor living space creates a place for gathering, provides warmth that extends the outdoor living season, and provides a focal point for the space, the same way that a fireplace and hearth do in the home.

While a lot of people take on outdoor design and landscape projects on their own, Hassan did have a list of suggestions if you decide to enlist the help of a professional.

  1. Make a list of what you want to have in your backyard redesign. If you have photos share those with your landscape designer, if you have specific products you want make sure your designer sees those before any planning takes place. The more complete the list the more likely you’ll end up getting what you want out of your designer and the finished product. Communication early on is the key for a successful project where everyone is happy.
  2. How are you going to use your yard? Be really clear about how you plan to use the space. If you have children is this a place you envisioning spending time. Do you entertain? Is privacy an issue. For his part, Hassan likes to get to know his clients and trying to figure out what they like and what they need. Again, communication is key to making a project work for everyone. If you’re hoping for a romantic and private retreat but fail to tell your designer, you may end with plan that is more suited to entertaining.
  3. Be clear about the budget. Make sure you have a budget and are willing to stick with it and be sure to communicate to your landscape architect and designer that same budget.
  4. Timeline. Are you remodeling your yard to host your daughter’s wedding? Allow for plenty of time to accommodate the remodel project. A backyard renovation is just as involved as interior remodel. Also make sure that you communicate with your designer your timeline and how flexible it is or isn’t.

If homeowners can keep these four simple things in mind, the process is simpler and less painful, and the result will show in the work.

And now I’m off to take in the Kitchen and Bath show and see what great tips and advice I can pass along you to.