By Emily Kemme
Photos courtesy: Glen Degenhardt Deck & Cover, Don King Landscaping
Enhancing your home’s outdoor spaces makes sense for Coloradoans. Our state’s temperate climate sees 300 days of sunshine, ideal for nearly year-round outdoor living. Glen Degenhardt has built decks along the Front Range for 40-plus years and finds that newcomers appreciate what Colorado natives already know. He calls it, “‘The Colorado mystique’ – winter is a whole lot nicer than they’d expected.”
Sprucing up your patio and yard is an annual ritual. Degenhardt and other landscape professionals can help you discover the hottest trends to make your surroundings the coolest in your neighborhood.
Start with the platform: Decks, Patios and Pergolas
Outdoor living means taking the indoors outside, offering a room with a view and space to cook and entertain. That translates to outdoor kitchens, comfy seating areas, dining rooms and space to play. “All that is great, but you have to have a deck to put it on,” Degenhardt points out. His most requested decking is composite, a primarily plastic product of recycled materials and wood. Higher end products offer enhanced color and natural streaking. “There is relatively less maintenance compared to natural cedar or redwood, but drawbacks are the plastic gets hot in Rocky Mountain sunshine. Composite decking isn’t a green product, either,” he noted.
If what you’re looking for is the real thing, Degenhardt builds about 40 percent of his decking projects with wood, even though natural woods are less readily available because of market forces.
Creating outdoor spaces with stone, brick or concrete – both smooth or stamped, is another option. Don King, of Don King Landscaping uses CAD designed layouts to conceptualize ideas for his customers. Hardscapes are design elements that don’t change over the years as backyard space develops. They can include decorative rocks, pathways, retaining walls and patios. All are elements of a low-maintenance landscaping plan.
Top it off with a pergola, one that’s completely open or provides partial shade. “In the past, people opted for covered porches, either a roof extension or attached to the house giving solid cover rain or shine,” Degenhardt said. “Solid covers decrease the light in your house. Since we don’t get much rain here, they aren’t needed.”
Fire Pits to Keep Toes Toasty
Fire pits are a versatile method of generating warmth on chilly nights, and it’s a natural conversation spot. One standard King Landscaping feature is a sitting wall – a structure made of stone or concrete where people can gather around a fire pit or fireplace. Built-in benches, fire pit surrounds and porch swings can also be constructed to match your deck.
Light it Up
A good design plan includes lighting and the diverse electronics, gadgets and systems available to consumers. From retro-vintage Edison bulbs outlining a pergola to built-in low voltage and LED lighting, Degenhardt said smaller lights are best for creating a glowing nighttime ambiance. “The industry is aware of people’s interest in living outside, but also not lighting up the neighborhood while entertaining,” he said. Lighting should highlight interesting architectural aspects, plants and design accessories.
Soothing and calm, after you’ve finished digging in the dirt or working all day, King believes a water feature is a nice accent element. “It gives a backyard character; it’s a romantic, tranquil part of your garden.”
Victory Gardens and Exploring the World of Plants
Whether it’s a kitchen garden, plant pantry, container, or raised beds, people are increasingly growing their own vegetables. A trend beginning when people worked from home during the pandemic, it’s expected to continue as people learn that gardening is Mother Nature’s recommendation for stress relief.
King said when it comes to plants, sometimes more is better. “The garden will have a unique appearance while choking out weeds. Lack of sunlight on soil thanks to plants’ natural spread enhanced with pruning will stop most weeds.”
Multi-purpose mulch can also be used for water retention and suppressing weed growth.
By exploring the plant world, you can enhance your garden’s sustainability. Using a broad variety of native plants for perennial ground covers, vines, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees can reduce your water bill while creating a lush, all-weather oasis that will thrive over the years.