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Article posted: 6/3/2012 1:00 AM

Backyard makeover Week 5: Boring backyard syndrome

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I try. I really do. No matter how much time, money or effort I put into my backyard, it never materializes to what I envision. My backyard is so large that it just doesn't seem warm and inviting to our guests. My wife and I love to host summer gatherings but we are limited to an old concrete slab overlooking a flat, boring expanse of sod. I tried to put up a gazebo but all that remains is a skeleton of beige metal with duct tape. I tried planting evergreen trees but they haven't exactly grown the way I wanted. I tried mulching but it only resulted in patches of flower beds that really don't make any sense. When we entertain, our friends and family are treated to the sight of water towers, busy street traffic and high retention electrical towers. They get serenaded to the sounds of roaring airplanes and beeping semis going in reverse. Having a "cool" backyard would encourage our teenage sons to stay home. They could invite friends over instead of causing havoc on the streets of suburbia over the summer. With today's economy, hosting backyard gatherings makes sense and is a great way to celebrate the season without spending a lot of money. I can see myself lounging in my dream backyard but I just don't know how to achieve it. I know that the Daily Herald team could come to my rescue to save me from Boring Backyard Syndrome. Just set aside a space so I can pop up a tent for guests who won't want to leave.

What the experts at Northwest Lighting and Accents recommend, with a budget of $10,000:

Our in-house designers and lighting specialists used LED lighting and interesting landscaping elements to create a fun outdoor entertainment space that appeals to both adults and teenagers. It includes (A) LED area lighting to illuminate a space for playing "bags," or "cornhole" a popular outdoor game for all ages; (B) accent LED lighting on the tree and perennials to help distract from the wood pile and shed; (C) LED path lighting around the entertainment area; (D) LED task lighting to illuminate the brick and stone patio with fireplace, grill station, and seating area for dining and relaxing; (E) LED hardscape lighting under step to patio and in ground lighting adds safety while illuminating the perimeter of the entertainment area; (F) illuminated bird bath accent; (G) LED path lights and accent lights on additional landscape elements to create visual interest.

Beginning May 6, through June 3, the Daily Herald is publishing finalists in our Get Your Summer On backyard makeover contest. Two winners will be chosen and they will receive prize packages valued at about $15,000. Winners will be featured in Home & Garden on June 10. To see more backyard makeover ideas, special Web page at www.dailyherald.com/entlife/homegarden/summer.

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