By Meredith Hale
It’s an overused cliche: A man’s home is his castle. But it doesn’t hold true if the castle was decorated by someone else. Homeowners who add their own special touches will be a lot happier … especially when they make that monthly mortgage payment. You’re going to make changes to the interior, why not freshen up the landscape?
You would like to put your own personal touches on the property that you worked so hard to earn and maintain. From the type of grass to the patio, fencing, and sculpted gardens — all of it adds to the ambiance. Keep in mind, if you live in a structured community, your homeowner’s association will likely put limits on what you can do. But beyond that, the limit is only your imagination.
You have the basics, but why not add more? Dress up that boring driveway by adding shrubs, small trees and flowering bushes along the edges. Potted plants add color. Decorative lighting, rocks and boulders, windchimes and hanging baskets also add curb appeal. You can also camouflage outdoor sheds and structures with plants, flowers, and those decorative yard pieces.
Whether you're a beginner or hoping to achieve master gardener status, flower and vegetable gardens enhance the beauty of your yard. Stop by the local library or Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for inspiration. Keep in mind, gardens need constant attention. If you’re going to brighten up your landscaping with flowers, decorative plants and veggies, be ready to spend some time and money on upkeep.
Imagine something that looks like a spiral staircase enclosing your property. Or separately placed steel or wooden walls, here and there. Unless your HOA says otherwise, there’s no ironclad rule that says you must stick with standard fencing options. Whether you prefer traditional hedges or a more modern fence, there are a host of designs made from various materials. If you decorate your living room with planters, consider a verticle garden as a privacy fence. Get creative!
Water and Wildlife
You probably don’t want to build a moat around your castle, but outdoor water fountains and koi ponds are trendy. Birdhouses, feeders, and baths attract various species, especially during a cold Des Moines winter. Depending on the time of year, you might see any one or more of 353 noted species of birds in Polk County — maybe even the elusive peregrine falcon! With a welcoming yard, a few trees and, of course, plenty of seed, the birds will enjoy your hospitality. If you build it, they will come.
Outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, pergolas, decks, fire pits, and barbecue islands allow you to expand your living space. They also add to the value of your home and have a great return on investment. In the end, everything we homeowners do is about what we like and want; regardless if it will pay for itself in the long run. As long as you can afford it … do what makes you happy.
Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.