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Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space

Amp up your lawn and garden with these simple updates

Being outside is a lifesaver during the pandemic, so you want to make the yard, garden or deck comfortable, safe and inviting. Think about ways to add seating, plant seedlings or enjoy social distance time with friends.

spinner image two photos one of the front of a house and one of a townhouse backyard with stairs and a chain link fence
Courtesy Kirk Gothier and Caitlin DeFlaviis

Problems: No landscaping, not useful

We’ve stretched the definition of home this year to include every grabbable inch of lawn, courtyard and balcony space. For some of you, that means planting flower rows or a quarantine victory garden. For others it’s finding ways to make social-distance visits safe and comfortable. For everyone, Jonathan says, “the outdoors gives you additional usable living space without having to erect walls and all that.”

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$ Budget:

All-weather rugs and furniture create “additional usable living space without having to erect walls,” says Jonathan. Growing vegetables could lower bills; big-box stores sell easy-to-assemble raised beds.

spinner image design sketch for a patio deck outdoor area
Amber Day

$$ Midrange:

For a little more green, install a vertical garden system, such as GreenStalk or Lettuce Grow (cofounded by Deschanel), which uses 95 percent less water and grows two to three times faster than the garden variety. “Linda and I popped one in and after two weeks, without much attention, we were lettuce farmers,” Drew says. He also notes that “all-weather furnishings today bring the comfort of inside outside,” like plush outdoor rugs that feel like indoor carpeting. For safety and mobility, ramps and handrails don’t need to be an eyesore. “Match them to the architecture of the house so they won’t stand out like a sore thumb,” Jonathan says.

$$$ Splurge:

Replacing a lawn with professionally installed synthetic turf isn’t cheap, but it’s “good for the environment, looks amazing and needs almost no maintenance,” Drew says. He adds, if you have room, “building a backyard studio lets you indulge new hobbies, a yoga or meditation practice, or just gives you space if you need a break from your quarantine crew.” 

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