Transform an Ugly View into a Dream EscapeJuly 15, 2015 by Philip Kessler | Comments Off on Transform an Ugly View into a Dream Escape
If you long for a backyard, patio and/or pool that can be your little slice of paradise, but an eyesore view is making escape impossible, cheer up! Turning sow’s ear scenery into a silk purse eye pleaser isn’t nearly as complicated as you may think. Beautification strategies are many and varied. Who ‘owns the ugly’ can often be the biggest factor.
If you do—that is, if your own backyard is the pimple blemishing your spotless paradise—a few well-chosen landscaping changes can work wonders. These do-it-yourself projects can transform your yard and save money:
- lay down natural stones or pavers to create a portable patio
- create a meditation garden bordered by bamboo plants and laced with flowers in blues and purples to evoke an atmosphere of tranquility
- Add small, ornamental water feature to enhance your sense of serenity
- plant the theme garden of your choice—tropical, woodland, beach, etc.
- add a stepping-stone pathway through the flowers or yard
- hang a hammock between trees (or install a free standing one under them)
- give worn-out patio furniture a facelift with paint and bright, new cushions
Of course, while you’re free to makeover what’s yours, beautifying the neighbor’s blot on the landscape—or the freeway view fifty yards across the verge—isn’t an option. Happily, non-ownership doesn’t translate into, “I’m stuck with it.” There are a whole bunch of ways to escape from what’s ugly and theirs.
It’s not my fault!
Take privacy screens, for example. If your patio or pool looks out on urban blight, rush-hour traffic, or in through the neighbor’s sliding glass door, a privacy screen may be just the ticket. These screens are happy-making for a few reasons. First of all, they can be installed on existing screens over pools, patios, windows, or doors. Secondly, they either completely block, or drastically reduce, people’s ability to see in, without pinching off the flow of fresh air. And thirdly, you can choose the view from your side—tropical lagoon, mountain forest, or beach, for example—and have it printed on the screen. Suddenly, you’re looking out at the horizon as if you were stepping out onto a back porch onto your favorite beach instead of looking at the Miller’s unkempt lawn or the Smith’s backyard barbecue pit.
Create your own personal forest retreat with tall hedges and evergreen borders. Strategically-placed groups of shrubs work, too. Choose varieties that will thrive in your climate zone, plants that will grow quickly but not so crazily you’ll spend half your life hacking them back. Black bamboo, bush cherry, “little red” holly, and flowering maple are a few good ones. Once you’ve enclosed your area, add a touch of luxury with an outdoor fireplace or surround the pool with well-chosen, low-maintenance plants to soften the lines and blend naturally with the rest of the yard.
Finally, fences are a sure-fire way to cozy up your private retreat. If you love the privacy offered by basic wooden fences (or faux-wood vinyl), but don’t want to totally eclipse the outside view, think about inserting carefully placed decorative cutouts to serve as windows on the pretty bits. Add your own pretty bits by laying free-form flower beds in bright reds, yellow, and oranges along your side of the fence. Tall and solid isn’t your only possible fencing choice. Ornamental fences add a touch of elegance to your backyard and come in a variety of heights, materials, and colors. You can even go with less-expensive chain-link fencing. If you choose one of these see-through types, planting ivy, clematis, and/or hops along the fence can dress it in green, lush, and natural.
No matter how you decide to improve your view, choosing even just one method can make a world of difference—if you choose the right one. Decide if your goal is to impress or cover up a mess. Come up with a budget that will help you get the most out of a spot that’s there for your enjoyment, then stick to it!