Create a relaxing outdoor space at home

Create a relaxing outdoor space at home

Beverly Katz, featured on WWL-TV’s Great Day Louisiana, discusses the best way to start when planning an outdoor-living area and what problems she comes across when addressing New Orleans landscapes.

The full interview

What is the best way to start when planning an outdoor-living area?

The first thing to do is a site analysis. This is when you consider how your outdoor space will be used and by whom. As families grow and evolve, how you use your home changes. And these changes affect your exterior space, too. Do you want someplace to entertain? A play area for children? Need to camouflage yard tools or garbage cans, or simply beautify your backyard? Make a list of the features you already have that you want to keep or you need to work around, like a large tree or swimming pool and those that you would like to have, your wish list. When designing your exterior room, consider your interior color scheme keep this in mind when choosing the brick or stone colors for the patio or walkway this is a good technique when thinking about the plants you want to use as well.

What problems are typically found in an outdoor area?

In the New Orleans area, probably the biggest problem is poor drainage. Subsurface-drainage problems, which can be caused by gutter spouts or if your land isn’t graded properly, will result in wet areas. This standing water creates a host of problems. It came back up into your house, create issues for your home’s foundation, kill your plants, create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and cause your patio to sink. Other common outdoor problems are poor access to specific area, bad workmanship on current architectural structures, lack of privacy and not planning for root systems of your existing plants and trees.

Once I’ve decided what I want, how should I implement the plan?

It isn’t necessary to do everything at one time, but there is an order to the process. The first thing to do is to solve any major issues that exist, such as drainage problems. You may also want to relocate plants that you want to keep, if possible, so that they aren’t damaged during construction. Next, perform any construction such as building patios or walkways. Remember that careful measuring will provide a much better basis for estimating the materials required and cost involved, as well as ensure you aren’t crossing property lines. Once the structures are built, grade the surrounding land to match and then landscape.

How do you create an old fashion New Orleans courtyard?

Probably the most remembered aspect of the quintessential New Orleans courtyard is the atmosphere created by the colors and fragrances of the plants it contains. Ferns will provide deep, dark, lush greenery. Night blooming jasmine vines and sweet olive trees give off the lingering scents that give your courtyard a presence. Camellias, Camelia sasanqua and azaleas can be used as borders or as hedges and are traditional indigenous plants. Even large yards can be given the cozy feel associated with the traditional courtyard, if broken up into smaller, more intimate areas. Terra-cotta urns, brick walkways and small trees such as Japanese dwarf magnolias help to achieve this. A well-planned space results from paying attention to details. Many small elements make up the overall impression you achieve and combine to create your special haven from the fast-paced lifestyle of today. Creating an outdoor space with features and plants you like will help keep you in touch with nature, as well as refresh and relax you in the mist of our suburban environment

Does incorporating landscaping increase my home’s value?

Absolutely! From my experience working with realtors and their clients, among the top things buyers seek the most in a new home are a well-manicured design and large, mature plants and trees. Homebuyers typically understand the costs associated with creating a new landscape and many are willing to pay more for one that’s already established. It reduces their out-of-pocket expenses as they can absorb the costs into their mortgage, and it also takes the burden off of the new homeowner to add yet another project to their long to-do lists.

Exterior Designs, Inc. is a boutique landscape design firm offering construction, installation and project management. Call 504-866-0276 for a free consultation.
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