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  • Writer's pictureTom Cavan


Landscaping has taken on a whole new perspective since the start of the pandemic BC (before covid) numerous backyard landscapes were already trending in the direction of "Staycationing" as people got tired of driving for 3 hrs and then spend 2 days on property work than packing up and driving another 3 hrs (mostly at a snail's pace on the 400) only to arrive home more tired than when they started out. Some holiday! So a trend of people selling their cottages and creating a backyard oasis with the cash flow became a real thing. Nothing like stepping into your backyard after a long day and being transported to an oasis, more than just a pool and BBQ.

But not everyone has been entitled to such opportunities as cottage life, many people have always had their sites set on a backyard oasis, the resurgence of pools and hot tubs is a good indicator. But now everyone is spending more time in their own familiar bubble of friends and family staying close to home and it seems with a lot of money once dedicated to things like holiday travel, restaurants, movies, concerts, and plays, etc is now being spent on home and gardens. There is a direct correlation of money now being spent on one's own properties due to social distancing and the climate of the outside world. Whether your property is measured in acres or square feet open your imagination, write down your dreams and aspirations, sketch out concept plans, involve the entire family(kids and crayons might surprise you), ask friends and neighbours questions, seek out the opinions and allow for a professional plan. Research before spending you may discover that a well thought out plan by a professional is a wise investment. You would not build a house without an Architects plan, or buy an Automobile that read assembly required. We all have budget restraints, prioritize and install incrementally, your dreams make take many years to complete, that's ok just begin at the back and make your way to the front of landscape evolution.

When implementing water and fire elements many issues have to be addressed for best results none more so than local bylaws.

Form follows Function...........

When planning a layout for your landscape whether it be a new start or renovating an existing site, one thing I like to emphasize is the "path of least resistance" What I mean by that is whenever possible remove as many obstacles as possible, keep it simple, don't overstate any one aspect of the landscape. Surprisingly enough this also helps eliminate unnecessary expenses and directs your investment into smart decision-making as well. It may sound obvious to some that outdoor dining is located close to the kitchen access (unless you plan on a complete outdoor kitchen with all the amenities) or visitors parking near the front door (someone please tell architects and builders) but all too often the front door is 60+ feet away from the driveway and the door from the backyard to the kitchen is either 4' off the ground or its the laundry room access as well. Nothing like the smell of detergent to get your appetite up.

Driveway access with close proximity to front door (take note builders)

Also, keep in mind that 3-4 months of the year we experience generous amounts of snow and ice so that 60' walkway you paid good money to install is now the bane of your existence every time you bring out the snow shovel. I try to encourage a driveway re-configuration when designing a front walkway whenever possible, it's always appreciated on snow days and your budget.

Your walkways and patios should be free-flowing and generous in nature so as to accommodate ease of interaction and will be traversed by all ages and footwear ranging from flip-flops to high-heal traffic. Pool and hot tub features are barefoot traffic after all these are predominately summer functionalities. If you are avid hot-tubbers, keep in mind that snowdrift between the door and the cover is common at least 4 months of the year! So be sure to have ample room for snow removal and access.

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