Accounting for the elements in backyard design

22 January, 2015

While you may want to surround yourself with a tropical paradise even if you live in the Midwest, planting palm trees won't go over so well. The climate you live in will influence the landscaping and design choices you make in your backyard, so you need to consider your environment when updating your space. Temperature isn't the only issue – wind, condensation and sunlight also impact your home. If you're about to revamp your backyard, take a look at these factors that should go into your decision making:

Observe your yard to see how much sunlight certain areas get each day. This will change throughout the year, so knowing the differences per season is good too. Some plants require quite a bit of direct sunlight while others can survive on less, which is why knowing your yard's exposure is key. Only plant greenery and flowers that will thrive with the light your yard gets. Most plants have a tag that indicates necessary sunlight to help make picking them easier. If you start with seeds, be sure to do your research.

Certain plants are also delicate when it comes to wind. If your yard seems to be breezy, but you want plants that generally don't fare well in a gale, consider adding trees and bushes. These additions help break the wind and make your yard a little more still. Reducing the breeze is also nice if you enjoy sitting outside. With trees and bushes blocking gusts, your outdoor furniture sets aren't as likely to tip over, which is a huge stress reliever if you have patio umbrellas – those things can become veritable sails. 

Most of the time, your location won't be much different than your climate, but some homeowners do have unique concerns. For instance, if you have a beach-side property, you'll have to worry about whether the salt water spray will harm your plants. City dwellers may also face issues like noise and air pollution, and privacy concerns.

Unless you live in the desert, rain and snow are factors when designing your backyard space. Most homeowners need outdoor seating that won't fall apart if it's caught in the rain. Your furniture should be water-resistant to help prevent damage – replacing outdoor furniture can get pricey, so buying a quality item upfront is a smart investment. Even if you purchase high-quality furniture designed to withstand life outdoors, make sure to bring it inside during winter. Snow can be vicious to even the heartiest of pieces. 

Design tips
With all those factors in mind, here are some more tips to make redesigning your backyard easier:

  • Choose native plants – they originate in the area, so they've evolved to handle sunlight, wind and condensation where you live.
  • Buy sturdy outdoor furniture – no matter how mild your climate, your outdoor furniture will experience some harsh conditions. High-quality furniture is meant to last in outside environments.
  • Enjoy your space – after considering your environment, pick plants and decor that suits your tastes and makes you feel at home.