Gardening Indoors With My Kids

Redefining The Modern Backyard -- It's Not Just Lawn And Flowers Anymore

If you've decided that you want more from your backyard than just a lawn and a few ornamental plants, you're certainly not alone -- one of the biggest trends in home living currently involves personalized outdoor spaces meant to enhance the quality of life of household occupants. Fully-fledged outdoor kitchens and dining areas crafted with weather-resistant materials are becoming increasingly common, for instance, and they can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, from basic barbecue setups to pizza ovens made from natural stone.

Following are just four of the current backyard trends among homeowners who want more than just lawns and flowers. 

Fire Features

Backyard bonfires provide illumination, heat, and even a source for cooking simple items such as hot dogs and s'mores -- or, if you're more ambitious, you can use it for creating fabulous dishes in Dutch ovens, cast iron skillets, and other items specifically designed for open-fire cooking. A solid, well-built fire pit made from brick or natural stone can also be used to keep guests warm in the middle of winter while enjoying hot toddies around the fire. If you would prefer the convenience of simply turning a knob and having fire rather than starting a wood fire from scratch, you can choose to have a fire pot installed in your outdoor living space rather than a fire pit. A fire pot runs completely off of natural gas, provides optimal warmth and illumination, and when it's time to go inside, all you have to do is turn the knob in the off position instead of wetting down embers to ensure that the fire is completely out. 

Water Features

If you're seeking ways to turn your backyard into a personal sanctuary where serenity and peace reign supreme, consider adding soothing water features such as waterfalls, ponds, and fountains -- or perhaps a stunning combination of all three. The sound of running water is one of nature's musical masterpieces, and you'll love lounging in your backyard lulled by its sound. If you're an avian enthusiast, you can include a lovely birdbath to attract and hydrate your fine feathered friends. 

Natural Stone Decks

Traditional wooden decks are increasingly being replaced by those made from stone for a variety of reasons. Natural stone is a highly attractive material that can be stamped or stained to suit individual needs and preferences as well as left as-is for a gorgeous natural look. Stone can easily be textured to provide slip-resistant properties, while wooden surfaces are often extremely slippery when wet. Stone is also much less likely to be damaged by fire or water than wood, and you may even get a pleasant surprise in the form of a price reduction of your homeowners' insurance as a result of opting for stone deck.

Winding Walkways

Winding walkways made of stepping stones add a whimsical accent to any yard. You can surround them with tiny herbs such as Corsican mint or creeping thyme that smell heavenly when it rains or when they're crushed underfoot. Walkways can be made from a variety of natural stone, including slate, limestone, river rock, and granite. You can even design and create your own garden path if you've got a good eye for composition and design as well as a great deal of physical strength and stamina. Otherwise, you can always hire a talented professional to breathe life into the garden path of your dreams. 

A local natural stone retailer like Harristone can provide you with many more great ideas on how you can create an attractive and functional backyard environment that's ideal for entertaining guests, spending time with family, or simply relaxing and rejuvenating in your own private oasis.