WASHINGTON — Well, the groundhog was wrong — at least as far as D.C. is concerned.
Restaurant patios are packed, running trails are crowded and long waits for the bus are more pleasurable than painful. The Washington region is enjoying a stretch of springlike weather in the middle of winter, and nearly everyone is looking for an excuse to spend time outside.
Another way to take advantage of the rare rays? Get your yard in shape.
Sara Bendrick, landscape designer, host of DIY Network’s “I Hate My Yard” and author of “Big Impact Landscaping,” stopped by WTOP to share her best tips for transforming a basic backyard into an outdoor oasis.
It’s never too early to get started
Yes, there is still plenty of time for freezing temperatures to strike before the warm weather sets in for good, but Bendrick said it’s never too early to start working on your yard — even if it’s just on paper.
The first step is cleaning up and clearing out. Bag up leaves, gather twigs and “move all those trash cans and all those things that don’t belong in the middle of your yard so that you can actually see the potential for it,” Bendrick said.
Installing “hardscapes,” such as patios, retaining walls and overhead structures, is another project that won’t get ruined should the weather change for the worse.
If you’re working with a small budget and don’t have the funds to build a designer-inspired patio, Bendrick said consider materials other than the traditional pavers and stones. Gravel, or even an outdoor rug, can anchor a gathering area.
“It just creates a clean surface for you to be able to come out and put a sofa or some chairs,” she said. “It’s a more affordable way to create an outdoor living space.”
Get creative to cut costs
“Renovating in general can get expensive, and it can get expensive quick,” Bendrick said.
One way to keep costs in check is to work with what you have — or even what you find.
If your patio is concrete, a simple stain can give it a whole new look. Cracked concrete can be easily covered by an outdoor rug, and a different paint color on the back of the house can brighten the backyard.
“Things that you might use to decorate the inside of your house, maybe see how you can pull those ideas and themes outside as well,” Bendrick added.
“Adding the creative touches that really take your yard from just being cookie-cutter into something unique and really personal, that’s what really gets me excited.”
Small space? Not a big deal
Working with a small space can work to your advantage. Bendrick said the budget stretches further since a few simple changes can have a big impact.
Bendrick said any outdoor space needs three things: seating, plants and color. In a small space, she recommends setting the seating to one side of the patio or yard and then doing something visually interesting — such as a vertical garden wall — on the other side.
The latest lawn trend?
Looking to impress the neighbors? Bendrick said one of the hottest trends she’s seeing right now is long concrete pavers that are stamped and stained to look like hardwood. This creates the feeling of a luxurious living space, while still working as a practical patio.
“It’s going to last a super long time, and there’s not much maintenance that’s required for concrete in general,” Bendrick said.
“The more time you can spend outside, the better, in my opinion, and just putting the small things — like a bench or sofa out there — will make you so much more likely to use this space.”
Sara Bendrick will be demonstrating DIY projects and answering questions at the Capital Remodel and Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center Feb. 24-26.