Any of these 9 natural landscaping features can add function, health, and value to your yard, as well as beauty.
Your yard is the first thing many people will see when they look toward your home, but developing landscaping for your home doesn't have to be merely to impress your neighbors. It is a way to help you relax, to improve the value of your property, and to make it a healthier place to live. With so many landscaping ideas popular right now, which would you like to see improving your yard?
1. Raised Beds or Raised Gardens. A common motif of natural landscaping is the raised garden or flowerbed. Usually, these are created by building a retaining wall to lift the planting bed a few feet higher than the ground level. Using rocks or other materials, you can create a short wall that you fill with dirt and plant your garden. Small trees can work in raised beds, and the variety raised gardens provide isn't limited to plants – your selection of building materials for the retaining wall also creates an opportunity to add color and texture. These raised gardens provide more character to your yard by adding plants at various heights to engage the eye.
2. Stone Pathways. Another common natural addition to many lawns and landscaping projects is a stone pathway. These can be wander throughout your lawn, reminiscent of stepping stones through an ocean of green grass; also, you can use them to replace cement to give the patio or barbeque area a natural look and feel and to promote better drainage. As a variety of stones are available for projects, you can find nearly any color or style to match your specific needs.
3. Natural Materials Patio. By looking to nature for your building materials, you can create a lavishly decorated patio that looks as if it were cut out of the Earth. Stone steps and rock retaining walls can elevate the patio and give you the sense of sitting on top of a mountain peak. This form of patio works exceptionally well if your lawn is at a lower level than the rest of the home. Many lawns slope up toward the house, so leveling it at a high point gives you a good start on laying this patio.
4. Waterfalls. Every year, people invest in devices that sit on their desks and recreate the sound of a small waterfall in order to relax. Why not construct a larger one on your property? Your waterfall could be a constant focal point for relaxation as you develop exactly what you want to see and hear using natural materials. You can lavishly decorate your waterfall with plants, creating a unique look that can remove pollutants from the air and water as it soothes. Many waterfalls run on solar-powered pumps, as well.
5. Ponds. Many people will construct small ponds in the yard to house koi or other marine life to further accentuate the scene. A pond built with natural materials can give it a unique presence that will catch the eye of passers-by, without costly and unnatural chemicals. Some ponds are large enough that designers will even construct small footbridges over them to enhance the experience. With proper maintenance and design, if you choose to stock it with fish, you could have a reliable food source for years.
6. Natural Swimming Pool. Why settle for a small koi pond when you can build a natural swimming pool for yourself and your family? The idea behind a natural swimming pool is to combine the manageable size and recreational aspects of a swimming pool with the natural appeal and plant- and animal-life sustaining qualities of a pond. With good design, you can count on clean water filtered by plants and clay and gravel in place of concrete and fiberglass. As you might guess, natural swimming pools cost less, too.
7. Streams. A live, running stream can produce an ambiance that is almost unparalleled. An active small stream that uses solar-powered pumps to move the water and runs across varying heights of stone in its bed creates a babbling brook effect. Your previously ho-hum lawn will take on a new life as a stream trickles down the rocks, around the yard, and then cycles through the pump. Besides providing a micro-habitat for plants and animals in your backyard, streams can help with stormwater runoff and prevent flooding.
8. Native Flowerbeds. Building a lavishly decorated flowerbed is probably one of the cheapest ways to enhance your yard. For less than $50 in seeds and materials, you can impress the neighborhood. However, choosing and planting native species allows you to do more than beautify. Growing the plants native to your area can better manage stormwater, require less maintenance, perform well from season to season, and support the insect life that supports native birds. As well, the native plants that you grow will give your garden a sense of place.
9. Natural Barbeque. Every year, millions of people will take to the backyard and start up the propane grill. However, a barbeque built by using natural materials like stone that burns wood, a renewable resource, can provide more than a way to cook food. An open fire in the yard creates a gathering place and allows you to enjoy the outdoors on chilly spring and fall nights. Some outdoor kitchens can save you money and resources by functioning as well as the oven in your indoor kitchen.
Natural landscaping doesn't have to cost you a lot of money if you plan to do the work yourself. However, it will require patience and time as you grow seeds into flowers and sculpt rocks into fire-pits. Doing your own landscaping has hidden benefits, like reducing stress and providing exercise. It's also a great way to connect with your kids, if you have those. Revamp your yard and take pride in your accomplishments.