If a home is a family’s castle, what is the yard? Just as some castles blend beautifully with their surroundings and some seem to rise out of nowhere, there are log-home sites that make you want to dive right into the scene. And there are others that appear to have an empty moat around them.
Planning the surroundings affects the appearance as much as the color, size and shape of the house. Remember, too, that your living space doesn’t end at the front door. Determining how you will use your yard, acreage or ranch is just as important as deciding upon the impression you want to make. You don’t want to create a pretty picture that is either hard to maintain or downright impossible to keep going.
Maybe you’ve always wanted a gazebo or a prized rose garden and think this is finally the right time. It is. But before you begin staking it out, answer three vital questions regarding your property:
- How much of your home budget have you set aside for landscaping and out-buildings, as well as future work on the property?
- How much time can you give to building and maintaining the property?
- How much time will you actually spend outdoors just enjoying what you’ve created?
That last question is often overlooked, but it is very critical. If all your property represents is a lot of work, you’ll never appreciate it. The grounds shouldn’t &mdash and don’t have to be &mdash drudgery. If that’s the way it’s going to be, it will detract from your overall enjoyment of your log home.
Better to keep things simple and well planned than to drive yourself to distraction trying to maintain a showplace. After all, you want to impress yourself more than you do anyone else. And if the log home is your second residence, you want either a really good ground crew or a maintenance-free existence so that when you arrive at your getaway a mountain of yard work doesn’t confront you.
If time or money prevents you from doing all the outdoor work you want to do immediately, consider doing it in stages. Landscaping close to the house should be completed first as it provides the finishing touch. Front yards present curb appeal, so save the backyard for Phase Two, if necessary. Still, it should be ahead of outbuildings, decorative fences and ponds. Creating a getaway on your property to enjoy the outdoors is better for the tired soul than adding the extra touches.
When determining your budget, don’t underestimate. Get prices from nurseries, home improvement centers or other sources so that you arrive at realistic costs. If you are moving into a secluded, wooded area, you probably will want to selectively remove trees and brush &mdash a relatively low-cost chore, especially if you’re willing to tackle the job yourself. But if you are looking to go to the max &mdash tiered pools, picket fences and a boat dock &mdash you need to consider not only the initial cost, but also the upkeep. Periodic painting and staining require labor, too &mdash yours or someone else’s &mdash as well as materials, so even if you can put off the upfront cost, you have to keep in mind that every additional feature also represents increased expenditures down the road.
You can hold down the costs if you are willing and able to do at least some of the work yourself. However, an arthritic homeowner who tries putting in a 20-by-20-foot flower bed may quickly wish she had chosen evergreens instead. With the variety of leaf colors and shapes available, it’s possible to create an eye-catching garden while keeping maintenance to a minimum.
If you are handy with a hammer and have the time, go wild with lattice boards or landscape timbers. But if you have a high-pressure job that leaves you with little extra energy, you might very well enjoy a yard plan that is more spread out and employs fewer items that will require less of your time. Kick back on the patio with a glass of iced tea &mdash and smell the neighbor’s flower garden instead.
The point is that your property should be an oasis that meets your expectations and needs rather than anyone else’s. You will increase your property value by investing in the outdoors, but realistically, well-maintained minimalist grounds are far more attractive and valuable than the poor log home with the overgrown landscaping and rundown deck.