With a little inspiration and the right materials, a 10-by-10 foot dirt plot in your backyard can be transformed into one of the best places to relax at your home.
Just ask Reed Santee of Central Home Supply in Scotts Valley.
“My wife and I turned a space we were never hanging out in to somewhere we really like,” he said.
Santee laid down flagstone, a custom boulder fountain and several chairs to his yard, turning the space from a virtual wasteland to a great place to spend an hour reading a book in afternoon sunlight or having a cup of coffee with a friend.
Santee’s design was simple, but he said he often helps customers with more complex projects ranging from backyard remodels to creating a swimming pond.
“People have great ideas,” Santee said. “What we have here is the time to go from start to finish with them.”
What do I add?
Santee said that using rock adds value to the home, with little to no maintenance. Adding boulders, often made of Sonoma field stone (also known as Moss rock), creates texture in the landscape.
“Rocks bring a focal point and they are a great conversation piece,” he said.
Santee also noted that adding stone adds value to a home.
After building the space, outdoor living areas require furniture and features to make them livable. Scarborough Gardens’ Kylie Folkins said Ipe wood furniture has been flying off the shelves this year. “It is very dense,” Folkins said. “It’s very smooth and high quality.”
The smooth finish needs little care, and much of the furniture has clean lines that add class to backyard settings.
Other popular items Scarborough sells are hand-crafted tin animal decorations — goats and pigs are popular — and colored gazing balls made of glass or mosaic that can be hung, placed on pillars, in table top stands or directly on the ground to add color and interest to the backyard. The local supply stores have displays to show some of the many possibilities.
Add a fountain
Both Scarborough Gardens and Central Home Supply recommend adding a fountain to outdoor living areas. The soothing noise can drown at traffic and add a conversation piece to your landscape. Stewart Construction Services of Scotts Valley creates fountains out of boulders. A small pump cycles water through a whole underneath and the water gurgles down the sides into a basin hidden underneath and then back up through the rock.
Stewart also creates one-of-a-kind centerpieces, such as a three ton boulder partially hollowed with a Japanese maple planted in the middle, with bench surrounding the outside.
Built in living
Elaborate outdoor living areas can include rock fireplaces and fire pits, as well as wood-fired pizza ovens, gazebos, garden boxes, well-placed benches, lights — along with almost any other feature you’d like. Some projects can be completed by the average DIY dad, while others will need the expertise of professionals.