By Uma Campbell
As the weather warms and Spring slowly rolls in to replace winter, more and more people will be spending time outside. Whether you have a balcony, roof terrace, patio, or sprawling yard the chances are high that your outdoor space has been neglected as of late. Warmer weather is almost upon us, and it is time to freshen up your outdoor areas. Transforming your outdoor space for Spring might sound like a grueling chore, but with a bit of planning and elbow grease, you can create your dream outdoor retreat. Revamping your outdoor space needn’t be expensive and can also be done in an environmentally friendly way. Below are a few ways you can update your outdoor area with green methods in time for Spring.
Fire Pits and Grills
A survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2018 found that one of the most requested outdoor design elements was fire pits. Little is more relaxing than sitting by a fire on a summer night, and thankfully, fire pits are an easy element you can add to your outdoor area. Many fire pits use propane as fuel making them an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to improve your space. Check with local home improvement stores to buy a fire pit in person, but there is a wide selection of fire pits from major online retailers that can be delivered to your door. You can build a custom fire pit, but this will likely require professional help and will be significantly more expensive than buying a manufactured fire pit.
Another popular outdoor activity during the warmer months is grilling or barbecuing. An outdoor grill opens up new cooking possibilities and nothing is more emblematic of summer than an outdoor grilling party. Outdoor grills can use a few different fuels and your fuel choice may affect the flavor of your food, but propane is the most common gaseous fuel source as reported by the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association.
You may think that outdoor areas don’t need lights because surely the sun will provide enough light, but this assumes perfect sunshine 100% of the time. In reality, you may want to spend time in your outdoor space when the sun is not bright enough to illuminate the area. You can string up lights or install an outdoor lamp, but these options require running electrical cables through your outdoor space. Solar lights are an easy-to-install and environmentally friendly alternative that doesn’t require electrical work.
Solar lights use the same solar panel technology responsible for powering entire homes and scales it down. Solar lights usually consist of a light bulb housed like a standard outdoor lamp with a solar panel on top and a ground stake on the bottom. The solar panel on top absorbs sunlight throughout the day and stores that energy to power the light at night. Some solar lights have the battery capacity to shine through the night while other models can only shine for a few hours. Regardless of the light’s capacity, how long the light shines is heavily dependent on how much sunlight it absorbs. The ground stake and lack of cables let you place solar lights anywhere you see fit, but solar lights perform best when placed in direct sunlight.
Plan Your Plants
Outdoor areas are the perfect place to build a lush garden, but do your research before you commit. Look up what plants are native to your area, what plants perform well in your climate, and if any plants are restricted by your government or housing authority. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential plants, look at each option carefully. Many people assume that all you must do is water a plant to keep it alive, but this is incorrect. Many plants require intensive care and are a serious commitment. Evaluate your willingness and ability to care for a plant so you don’t end up killing a plant that was too complicated for you. Adding plants is good for you and the environment, but killing plants by not properly researching each species is wasteful. If you are unsure about what plants would be ideal for your climate and lifestyle, take a trip to your local nursery and talk with a professional.
Transforming your outdoor space may seem daunting, but adding functional elements, lighting, and greenery can make a big difference. Fire pits and grills are features that foster social activities and bring new abilities to your home. Solar lights are a green alternative to traditional outdoor lights. Research the specific plants you want to add to your garden to ensure you are not wasting time and money.