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Patios with panache personalizing your yard. (Golf and Home Guide).

Spring calls us outdoors with soft temperatures and fragrances of renewal, but not everyone's yard is an enjoyable place. After the exhausting experience of moving into a new home, there is often only the energy to plant a few trees and to seed some lawn. Today, more people use their yards for entertaining and relaxing, just as they would an additional room in their home. Invest in walkways, patios, water features, gazebos or garden art to transform your yard into an enjoyable open-air retreat that adds value to your home.

Begin the yard's transformation with a thoughtful analysis. Reflect on favorite outdoor experiences, such as vacations and getaways, to determine the attractions that bring you particular enjoyment. Decide which activities you'd like to focus on. Is it outdoor cooking, dining, swimming, late nights by a fire, or a secret place to read and meditate? Once you make this decision, the right landscape architect or designer can create your dream space, just as Stephen Dubinski from Pointoview Landscape Design did for clients on a corner lot in Sugarhouse. Patrick Hays says Dubinski's design fully encompassed his hopes for an entertainment space, small fountains, walkways and an exquisite shade garden in the side yard. If you'd like to tackle a hands-on design project yourself, measure the yard; research easements, permits and zoning constraints; draw up a plan to scale; establish a budget; set up a schedule; and start to work.

The two backyards featured in the photographs demonstrate design options, while providing an interesting comparison since they are side-by-side in a recently constructed planned-unit development. Both owners approached noted Western landscape designer Michael Glassman with the same starting place -- a short and shallow concrete patio close to the house looking out to dirt and a block wall -- and both requested a garden with a Southern European villa theme. After several conversations, Glassman incorporated each owner's tastes and lifestyle preferences into the designs.

The professional couple explained that both worked long days. After work, they liked to spend their time together cooking, conversing and entertaining a few close friends. They had little time for yard care and wanted a space that a yard-care provider could maintain. The design includes a deep patio with an overhead trellis to block the harsh afternoon sun. On one end of the patio is a fully equipped kitchen with a sink, disposal, half-refrigerator, cook top and warming oven, so the two can prepare meals and dine outdoors. A large fountain is placed in the middle of a splash pool, not enough space for swimming laps, but ample for cooling off. The walkway that circles the yard separates the central lawn from the planting beds, where shrubs hide the subdivision's mandatory block walls.

Their next-door neighbor is a working professional with grown children and a large extended family. In contrast to the busy couple, she makes time for gardening and enjoys roses. She envisioned a space suitable for her solitary enjoyment that could be adapted for a large family sit-down dinner. In the resulting design, a low balustrade runs the edge of the lattice-covered patio for a stand-by outdoor dining room. The balustrade incorporates a classical motif, a theme repeated in the statuary, the large central fountain and the gardens symmetry. Another small wall-mounted fountain trickles next to a private sitting area. Recognizing that the owner enjoys working in the garden, there are ample beds and containers for roses and other flowering plants.

In less than two years, these two backyards have been transformed from sunny dirt squares into personal sanctuaries for enjoying outdoor delights. The new hardscape (the constructed features) defines how the spaces are used, much as the home interior is segmented into rooms. This spring, consider a new design to transform a backyard that you may only visit to cut the grass into a personal retreat that provides peaceful outdoor enjoyment at home.

RELATED ARTICLE: May Utah garden

* Sow annual seeds

* Plant annuals

* Plant window boxes

* Seed herb gardens

* Plant daylilies

* Deadhead lilacs

* Mulch tree and shrub beds

* Plant roses after last frost

* Reseed dead spots in the lawn

* Plant first round of vegetable seeds

* Transplant tomato and pepper plant starts

For more information: Month to Month Gardening, Utah by Kelli Dolecek, Four Sisters Publishing
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Author:Zimmerman, Ann
Publication:Utah Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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