Homes: Take back your backyard

TV handyman Chris Palmer shares an industry secret or two on how to enhance your outdoor space


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A backyard porch with horizontal privacy

With urban neighbourhoods getting denser, backyard privacy is becoming more important and harder to achieve for homeowners. The good news is there are easy solutions to enhance backyard privacy.

Plants: Regardless of whether you’re working with a large urban backyard or a smaller downtown plot, adding some low-maintenance greenery can optimize privacy, while adding some visual appeal. Alternatively, you can plant tall grass in raised planters, which create a nice blind while allowing the wind to pass through easily.

If greenery isn’t enough, buy fast-growing trees that work with your backyard location, which can offer privacy and shade. You can also use shade canopies for extra coverage as they can mount to three stationary points to create a great UV blocker. 

Pergolas: Overhead privacy structures and pergolas provide endless possibilities to add style, privacy and shade to your backyard. It’s a great outdoor investment that also increases the value of your property much like a deck would. It also creates the sense of an outdoor room, framing the space and making it more inviting since it gives you a little more privacy.

To add personality, plant climbing vines to gradually colonize the structure for a natural, soothing canopy. And try trailing fashionable vintage lights or lanterns to bring a touch of the indoors outside.

Horizontal privacy: Horizontal or woven privacy screens are also a great esthetic addition that can help create that separation in your backyard from neighbours. They also provide seclusion and a cool lounge feel to any outdoor space.

Many of my clients are looking to build more sustainably and are more aware of the ecological impact of certain materials.

An industry secret is MicroPro Sienna, which is an eco-friendly pressure-treated wood that’s affordable and only about half the price of cedar. I always remind my clients to protect their outdoor investments: once your Sienna project is complete, apply a water repellent finish to protect the wood.

Upcycling: I’m a big fan of transforming unwanted old furniture or doors into unique outdoor accents. You can easily make over a vintage door into a privacy wall to add a personal and vintage touch. A fun and affordable project that also reduces our carbon footprint!

Furniture and accessories: Brighten up shady corners with vivid jewel tones, shades and vibrant patterns. If your backyard feels like you’re on vacation, then every time you step outside will be as invigorating as a holiday. Feel refreshed with sunshine yellow bistro chairs, bright blue accessories and modern white tables to entertain your family and friends behind colourful, multi-tasking privacy curtains. With summer heating up, privacy curtains add some much-needed shade to your beautiful backyard space, making it the ideal place to cool down and relax this summer.

Chris Palmer is a regular guest expert on the Global Morning Show and is the owner of Handcrafted by Chris Palmer. 

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