In his famous lecture “Acres of Diamonds,” Temple University founder and author Russell Conwell illustrates the importance of contentment by saying, “you can journey to the ends of the earth in search of success, but if you’re lucky, you will discover happiness in your own backyard.” Backyards, especially in Florida, are an extension of one’s home and serve as beautiful backdrops for relaxing poolside, hosting al fresco dinners, reading books, grilling steaks, roasting marshmallows, and fellowshipping with neighbors. With its warm winters and tropical setting, Florida consents to both year-round backyard bashes and quiet, solitaire enjoyments. Here are a few tips to upgrade your backyard into a figurative acre of diamonds.
Update the Landscape
One simple, low-maintenance way to spruce up a Florida backyard is by updating the landscape. Consider incorporating native plants, which are verdant and low cost, and employing pockets of colorful flora, such as Red Coton Petra, Leavenworth's Tickseed,Black-eyed Susans, Purple Coneflower, Sunshine Mimosa, Beach Sunflower, Jasmine, and the Florida Sweetheart. Create curved flower beds that outline the lawn for a tropical, resort-style look. For added privacy, consider planting Arecales palm trees around the border of your property.
Try Artificial Turf
Florida lawns typically boast Bermuda grass, which is hearty but not always heavenly for bare feet. After creating a curvature bed of greenery, consider replacing the lawn with artificial turf. Reputable companies such as Southwest Greens offer realistic-looking turf that drains more efficiently than natural grass and requires little to no maintenance. Additionally, artificial turf is kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and environmentally friendly. Best of all, it is comfortable and clean for those who wish to play barefoot.
Separate Seating Area
Whether hosting a dinner party or sunbathing solo, every backyard needs a designated seating area. Conversation sets are the perfect addition to a backyard space as it allows for several people to sit, sip cocktails, and chat about current events. Anchor the seating area with an outdoor rug and center it with a coffee table to easily display drinks and appetizers. If you already have a seating area, you can easily update the space with new, colorful pillows and decorative lanterns.
Resurface Swimming Pool
Most backyards in Florida already have a swimming pool; however, these pools can appear tired and dated. Over time, the plaster of the pool fades and disintegrates as a result of powerful UV rays and salty air. An easy and relatively inexpensive way to update the swimming pool is by resurfacing it. Residents can select from a variety of colors: aquamarine, sapphire blue, ebony blue, diamond sand, silver grey and graphite grey are all popular options for newer homes. Typically, these surfaces shimmer and sparkle, giving a whole new look to the backyard.
Install a Water Fountain
According to researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, “the gently blurbing of a brook, or the sound of the wind in the trees can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax” (Science Daily, 2017). The peaceful sound of a water fountain, no matter whether natural or artificial, promotes relaxation and decreases anxiety. Lounging by the shimmering pool and listening to the sound of a tranquil waterfall is the perfect way to still one’s body and mind, which decreases stress and rejuvenates the mind. Furthermore, the melodic sound sets the mood for calmness and serenity.
Find a Fire Pit
Though Florida winters are mild, the evening ocean breezes make it chilly enough to light a fire in the backyard. Homeowners can easily add a portable fire pit, utilize a gas fire table, or construct a freestanding fire pit in the corner of the yard. Something about a nightly bonfire brings family and friends together and lends itself for a memorable time of sharing stories. Of course, fire pits elicit memories of summer camps and ski trips, and those memories come to fruition by roasting marshmallows and making smores.
Opt for an Outdoor Kitchen
Also known as summer kitchens, installing an outdoor kitchen in your backyard is a surefire way to make your backyard the most popular one in the neighborhood. Basic summer kitchens include a built-in grill, french drain sink, and storage cabinets, while more elaborate ones contain gas grills and smokers, double sinks, storage cabinets, ice-maker, and beverage coolers. Displaying a television above the summer kitchen area is an added bonus, especially during football season. Many residents add a small bar table or dining table, depending on the size of the space, so that they can enjoy cooking and eating outdoors.
Build a Treehouse
What child doesn’t want to spend hours climbing up a tree, pretending the treehouse is a fort, and warding off pirates? Building a treehouse is not as complex as it seems. In fact, several local companies build custom dollhouses, treehouses, and playhouses for children of all ages. If you do not have the space for a treehouse, consider installing a playground or swing set. Numerous studies state the importance of outdoor, imaginative play for children’s mental well-being and development. Like the iconic American painter Bob Ross once said, “there’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
Plant a Garden
Using a variety of box planters and pots, find your green thumb and sow some vegetable seeds. In Florida, one can reap tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and potatoes in the spring; carrots, beans, snap peas, and parsnips in the fall and winter; and lettuce, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, and broccoli in the summer. In addition to vegetables, homeowners can also ensure they meet the daily requirements for fruit servings by cultivating various fruit trees. Florida soil lends well to citrus, banana, avocado, and apple trees. With all the fresh oranges on hand, you may want to invest in a juicer to enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice each morning.
Showcase Lawn Ornaments & Antiques
If your green gardening thumb turns blue, you can always use the space to showcase interesting antiques or tasteful lawn ornaments. Many zen-following homeowners enjoy creating a backyard space where they can mediate, pray, and be still. Arches, rock beds, antique benches, and decorative gnomes are just a few ideas to demonstrate your style and personality in an outdoor setting.
From the simple addition of lawn ornaments to more complex constructions of kitchens, enhancing your backyard not only extends your living space and gives ample opportunity to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, it also increases the value of your home. Moreover, homeowners enjoy the liveliness of backyard bashes and privacy of serene solitude. Investing in backyard upgrades, especially in Florida, is a win-win decision.