My husband was recently injured while on duty as a full-time firefighter so this will be the summer of our "staycation." I would love to enhance our backyard to give it more of that resort feel so the kids will always say "There's no place like home!" We have always made family time our No. 1 priority with the hope that we will instill great family values into our kids and create great family memories for them. Spending three months in our "resort" backyard instead of only one week in Disney would be the greatest memory I can think of. The idea of walking out the backdoor with a new and exciting adventure to experience would put a smile on the kids faces every night as they fall asleep. Not only will this make for a great summer but it will make for a great future. They can invite their friends over for a fun getaway and one day they can bring their own children here to experience the same fun. We have a great start to our backyard. We just need to add the tropical colors and the fun activities. Thank you for your consideration in making this the "vacation" of our dreams!
What the experts at Knupper Nursery recommend, with a budget of $10,000 to $15,000:
The backyard of this suburban home is spacious and airy. There are mature trees and a play set along the back lot line, the rest of the yard is open and grassy with a wooden deck that appears to be attached to the house.
Back by the fence and under the huge trees would be a perfect place for a camping area, complete with fire pit. There is room to set up a tent in the summer for sleep-outs and/or evening ghost stories, and room to put some lounge chairs around a big fire pit. If budget allows, a flagstone patio around the fire pit would further define the area.
The side of the deck would be a great place for an activity area; for example it could have a bocce ball court and an area to play bags. Or it could be set up for a putting green or tetherball or croquet.
A "resort area" on the deck could include colorful pots of tropical plants. Bird- and butterfly-attracting perennials could be planted around the outside of the deck. A shade tree off to the side with a hammock underneath would provide an spot for down time. Tiki torches around the edge of the deck, along with a fun topiary for one of the pots, would add a Disney feel. Adding a pergola over the deck would add to a resort feeling.
A discovery area in back by the tent and fire pit could include a rough path with boulders staggered in. Some herbs could be planted in the sunny area. For the shady areas, we suggest a fern grotto, or some bleeding hearts and some jack in the pulpit.
This plan leaves plenty of open grassy area in the middle of the yard for baseball or running games or a badminton/volleyball net.
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.