If you’re starting to wonder where the last 40 or 50 years went, you may also be facing new challenges. Perhaps you’re not as mobile as you once were, or your eyesight isn’t as sharp. In any case, you’re more of the “fine aged wine” type, not the “complain and whine” type, and you want to continue to enjoy your outdoor space.
The good news is that your landscape can be designed to meet your evolving needs, and be a living, breathing extension of your living space. These are some ways to make your outdoor space more accessible, enjoyable and of course, beautiful.
Keep It Low Maintenance
Let’s face it, most people don’t want to do a ton of yard work. And if you’ve got aching knees or an ailing back then the last thing you want to do is weed, prune, mulch and water until the sun goes down. A low maintenance landscape will be less work and give you more time to enjoy it instead of labor over it.
There are plenty of ways to design ease and simplicity into your landscape. The right plants will help, especially those that are drought tolerant, pest resistant, and to be trimmed and pruned into submission.
Tall grasses are an excellent choice – Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass, and Sedge, to name a few. As an added bonus, they look lovely all year long.
Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susan, Peony, Hibiscus and Honeysuckle are a mere handful of the blooming beauties that you can enjoy with little fuss. Many will also attract birds and butterflies, which will give you hours and years of enjoyment.
Plants aren’t the only way to create a low-maintenance landscape. Include a variety of essentially maintenance-free elements and not only will it be easy to care for, but it will provide a diversity that you can enjoy throughout all four seasons.
Hardscapes like patios and rock gardens, natural stone accents, walls and borders, reclaimed wood, outdoor artwork, and more, will all add personality, charm and visual interest without asking for a moment of your time.
And don’t forget a water feature like a pond, fountain, pondless fountain, or bubbler. No, they’re not as hard to care for as you may think! A correctly balanced natural ecosystem pond, for example, can mostly take care of itself, and you can hire a pro for a twice-a-year service to keep it at its best.
Other water features, even something as simple as a patio water garden, can provide you with a multi-sensory experience and an added source of enjoyment with minimal care.
Landscape lighting is one of the single most beautiful and valuable additions you can make to your space. It’s great for property value, will accent and accentuate your landscape during the darkest hours, and performs an important safety function for those with mobility or visibility concerns.
There are so many ways to incorporate lighting, it just depends on your space and the effects you want to achieve. Start with lighting along pathways, steps, and patios to ensure safe movement at night. LED lighting will require the least maintenance since bulbs will last for years without needing to be replaced.
Lighting can also “wash” your house so the facade is entirely lit. That will make it easy to get around and add an element of security, too. For decorative touches as well as additional light to enjoy your space by, include moon lighting shining down from trees, string lighting above patios, strip lighting beneath benches, spotlights in flower beds and even overhead lighting if you have a pergola or gazebo.
Lighting should always be installed with an eye for the direction in which it will shine. Don’t install spotlights to wash your house, for example, if the light is going to shine directly through your living room window. Likewise, ground lighting should not create a glare that impedes vision. Bulbs should always be angled properly for the best illumination and to facilitate movement from one area to another.
You can even add colored lights in various warm or cool hues, including primary colors like red and green. That can be especially helpful if a particular color tone bothers you or makes it more difficult for you to see.
Make Movement Easy
If your balance isn’t what it used to be, or if you need assistance walking, then stairs may need to change. Depending on the configuration of your home, it may not be practical or aesthetically feasible to eliminate steps, but a good landscape architect can come up with creative solutions, like naturally graded ramps, or deep, low-profile steps that make climbing easier and safer.
Pathways, walkways and patios should be made of non-slip stone or wood to avoid unexpected falls. And hardscapes should be a fundamental addition that connects every area of your outdoor space not only to each other but to the entrances of your home.
If you have a vegetable garden, pond and patio, for example, then a well-planned and interconnecting pathway of flat, even stone will serve you far better than a patch of uneven grass to traverse.
Consider the width of the walkway as well, especially if you rely on a cane or walker. You certainly don’t want to be slipping off the edge and ending up wedged in a planting bed or lawn. Extra-wide walkways will make it easier to get around the outside of your home, will look great, and require little to no maintenance.
Naturalistic design will serve you well when it comes to creating accessible walkways. Hard turns and corners are eliminated in favor of gently winding paths, and uneven ground becomes easily navigable with smooth, gradual grades.
These are just some of the ways that your landscape can be designed to create a more accessible and safer outdoor space. If you want to enjoy your space and spend more time outdoors, contact us for a consultation. We’ll visit your home to discuss your needs and dreams, and create the perfect space for you.