Back Yard Opportunities

Often overlooked in design planning is fully utilizing property areas beyond the immediate vicinity of the house. This may require extending pathways and walkways from porches, decks and patios. Avoid the exclusive use of stairs and steeply inclined surfaces to provide use for a wide range of people. Using permeable surfaces that also allow easy walking and rolling can help reduce water runoff while providing a safe and trip-free experience. Consider including a mixture of fixed activities (gardens, social areas, etc.) with an ample amount of open space for flexible use and play.

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With so many variables at play, every project may differ greatly from the next. Site improvements can be expensive, but they’re also much easier to complete piece by piece over a longer time frame, which makes them much more feasible for many budgets.

How-to tip

Make sure that back yard features are located carefully and logically: gardens should have access to ample sunlight away from shading created by buildings and trees and social areas may be used more frequently if located close to the home, etc.

Any graded entrance will likely require power equipment to dig and move soil. Additional soil may have to be brought in from off site. Consider adding a raised edge along the perimeter of higher grades to provide visual safety markers and reduce the chance of accidents. When planning a sloped path, be sure to adhere to ADA requirements on maximum slope.