In recent years, homeowners have increasingly spent time and money on their outdoor spaces, but, now more than ever, the interest in outdoor living has spiked to unprecedented levels. As homeowners have adjusted to the new normal, the pandemic has elevated the importance of having outdoor private space and also empowered homeowners to envision a whole new level of how to use and enjoy their outdoor surroundings. Outdoor living is more inventive than ever as people view the numerous options for outdoor dining, seating, kitchens, bars, theaters, home offices, gyms, swimming pools, hot tubs, pergolas, landscaping and more. It’s a place to enjoy your morning coffee, take a lunch break and a safe place to spend time with family and close friends.
Where and how do you begin to achieve your vision of the perfect backyard oasis?
Hire a Contractor
Hiring a contractor is an important decision. Begin your search armed with questions to make sure you’re getting the best contractor for the features you are looking for. Follow your instincts. A professional can give you guidance on things you haven’t thought of, knows who to use for various projects and helps avoid costly mistakes.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How long have you been in business?
- What insurance and licensing do you have?
- What professional affiliations and credentials do you have?
- What services do you offer/not offer?
- Can I see your work for other clients?
- What sets you apart from other contractors?
- Can I have a list of references from projects you have done?
- Can I have a list of business or supplier referrals?
- When will you start/finish?
Put together a Master Plan
A good Master Plan includes everything you are dreaming of for your backyard. If you want a pool, fireplace, outdoor kitchen and extra seating or, if you simply want to expand your concrete and redo some landscaping, having a Master Plan will make the process easier for you and your contractor. If you have a wish list for future projects, make sure it’s included on the Master Plan. Future projects will need to be considered before you start the first phase of your renovation to make it easier later on.
Order of Operations
Groundwork is the most important phase and includes electric, plumbing, irrigation, drainage and lighting. If any of the future projects on the Master Plan include these utility lines, they should be installed during the first phase before any concrete, stonework or decking is installed. The utilities can be stubbed for later use. If a hot tub is on the Master Plan, a 220-volt line will need to be installed during the first phase.
Outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, structures and seat walls have concrete footers that need to be installed before the final concrete is poured. Have a plan for what you want the final concrete pour to look like. With so many ways to make concrete look great, make it a point to discuss this with your contractor. Dressing up concrete doesn't have to be expensive. You can add an eight-inch border cut or diamond cuts to enhance the look.
What type of structure fits my backyard? Can I extend my roof line or should I do a pergola? The first step is contacting your local city permitting office to find out where your building lines and utility easements are located on your property
The Final Touches
After the groundwork is done, the concrete is poured and structures are installed, it’s time for the final touches—landscaping.
Various plants do better in shade or sun and knowing the pattern of the sun for the various seasons helps with choosing the correct plants that will thrive. If you need an expert, a horticulturist has plant material knowledge, is familiar with the local landscape and can be extremely helpful especially with the crazy Oklahoma weather.
Quotes from clients we met this last year
- “I have been wanting to do this for years and never got around to it.”
- “Now, that I have been stuck at home for so long I realize how terrible my backyard is.”
- “I want a place for my kids to be able to go outside and do their schoolwork.”
If you have questions, need help with a project or need a Master Plan, call Innovative Outdoor Living at 918.629.7988 or email InnovativeOLC@gmail.com. They also offer free consultations on designing and installing the backyard you have been dreaming of for years.
About the Author:
Cherlyn Reeves owns Innovative Outdoor Living with her husband, Jason. They are members of the Tulsa Home Builders Association (HBA) and Cherlyn is the 2021 Treasurer for the Professional Women in Building Council at the Tulsa HBA. Cherlyn has a degree in Landscape Architecture and Horticulture. Innovative-outdoor-living-contracting-llc.business.site