Life slows down during summer, offering time to relax outside and catch up with friends and family. It’s nice to have an escape nearby where you can unwind and have fun. You don’t have to drive to the park or fly to Cancun to find an oasis; you can create one in your own backyard.
Shawn explains that cutting a lawn short after it has grown long can shock it, causing it to change to a lighter green for a week or so. He recommends mowing longer lawns each week to an approximate 2.5 to 3-inch height.
To maintain your lawn, hands-free, try the Husqvarna Automower. Brian Lennon, owner of Seven Day Services, says that this mower works rain-or-shine, is quiet, and is environmentally friendly as it puts out zero emissions. Plus, it frees up time for more outdoor projects.
private spaces Once your lawn is taken care of, you can design some private spaces on your property.
“There are so many options to make outdoor living custom designed to your tastes and needs,” says Ron Augustine, co-owner of Augustine Nursery.
inside out—outside in One simple option is to open your home to the outdoors with an Aspect bi-folding door system, which uses Conservaglass and weatherproof fixtures tested for the harshest weather conditions. Colleen McNamara-DePuy, design center consultant for Hudson Valley Sunrooms, says that the primary door can open for everyday use, but the rest of the system can open 20 more feet to make it seem like the outdoors are inside your home.
Further outdoors, you can create a lush lawn-scape on your property. Shawn Stokes, owner of Country Lawnscapes, says that most lawns in the area are seeded with perennial rye, which has a high rate of survival. For best results, he suggests maintaining this type of lawn with a longer height.
“A longer-cut lawn promotes good root growth and will also stay greener longer,” he says.
He suggests that homeowners first set a budget for the project and create a plan for their property, and he proposes using various areas of a property for different purposes. Perhaps you have a flat area at the top of a hill for a picnic table, or maybe there is a spot at the edge of your property for a clubhouse. You can create your own private enclaves by designing outdoor spaces like pergolas, gardens, and pool patios too.
Ensure that you can enjoy your outdoor space day-or-night with solar-powered, mood-setting lighting. Jody Bryan, co-owner of H. Houst and Son, says that solar-powered lighting is an economical option that saves electricity. Plus, LED bulbs never need to be replaced. Styles and finishes include polished and brushed metals and more. For best results, these should be placed in unfiltered sunlight.
For furniture, try Bare Furniture’s Vineyard Teak Collection. Co-owner Sara Weaver says that this collection is vintage-inspired, elegantly designed, and crafted with plantation-grown Forest Stewardship Council-approved teakwood. “[It] helps create a perfect outdoor living space by bringing all the style, elegance, and comfort of inside outside to your outdoor space,” she says.
The Vineyard Collection consists of sofas, loveseats, a cocktail table, deep seating chairs, dining tables and chairs, and bar dining. Weaver suggests arranging the seating so people face one another to create the perfect ambience for late-night chats or daytime gatherings.
Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot on all-weather carpeting that is specifically designed for patios, pergolas, screen houses, gazebos, and even poolside spaces. John Parisio, co-founder of The Carpet Store, says that the warehouse stocks mold and mildew-resistant carpets in 12-foot rolls that can be cut to any size. Prints, colors, or smaller widths can be specially ordered, and professional installation is available.
hammocks A hammock set to the side would provide a space for a guest or child to rest during a long gathering. Kyle Potter, co-owner of Potter Brothers, says that a well-crafted hammock is made of soft, breathable, 100 percent cotton. They come in all-weather quilted, sling, and net styles to satisfy different preferences.
“A well-crafted hammock is a net for your body with holes just wide enough to let your worries fall through,” he says. “Now you can relax, read a book, take a nap, and enjoy the outdoor environment.”
pathways and patios You can also install some environmentally friendly paving stones. Try creating a rustic space with permeable pavers that encourage the natural water cycle by allowing water to pass through small openings and reenter the ground water. Jim Niles, a landscape design expert from Herzog’s Home Center, says that his
customers have been satisfied with Techo-Bloc Pure permeable pavers.
“It just makes sense for our environment,” he says. “As we hear about water shortages and increased levels of pollution, the benefits of installing a patio, path, or driveway that allows rainwater to filter through to the earth below are very appealing.”
You can also have bluestone pathways custom-made by Howard Jarvis, whose walkways are considered works of art. He suggests a bluestone walkway because bluestone is both native and artistically stunning. They can be used to create beautiful, meandering pathways through your property, linking all of your escapes, from pergolas to gardens.
the garden If you do decide to create a garden escape, you must first get some quality soil. Brian Bell, soil expert and owner of Bell Topsoil, says that starting with high-quality soil will help your plants thrive.
“Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put in,” he says. “Gardening is no different. Whether you are looking for beautiful flowers, a productive vegetable garden, or a nice green lawn, it all starts with the quality of the soil.”
garden art Once you have that covered, you can move on to designing the garden space. Victoria Coyne, owner of Victoria Gardens, recommends bringing art into your garden designs. Her business carries Haitian art pieces handmade from 55-gallon drums.
“Each is a signed piece, and they come in a range of prices for every budget,” she says. “They get even better while out in the elements—They age and get a wonderful, rich, weathered patina.”
Victoria also suggests adding weather-resistant metal photographs made by John Fischer, a local photographer. You can also design some art pieces yourself by recycling old containers and furniture. Try creating a wind chime out of old pots, cans, and jars!
moonlight gardens A garden oasis provides brilliant hues in the sunlight, but remember to consider what it will look like under moonlight. Eric Stewart, owner of Greenman Garden Design, says that one can take full advantage of warm summer nights by planting a moon garden.
“The key here is to make use of not only fragrance but also of white flowers and silvery variegated foliage that will seem to glow in moonlight,” he says.
Eric suggests white roses—climbing or otherwise—as excellent candidates for a moon garden, and sweet alyssum or white begonias are his recommendations for pathway lining. He also suggests planting beacon silver or white Nancy for partially shaded areas.
“To round off the silvery glow at night, consider white-flowering shrubs such as variegated dogwoods and certain varieties of deutzia and spirea,” Eric says. “Of course, no moon garden would be complete without a moonflower.” You can reinforce the mystic feel of your moonlight garden by installing silver-colored metal roofing on your home, pergola, or shed to reflect the moonlight. Stephen Padusnak, president of S.A.P. Exteriors, says that custom, investment-grade, standing-seam metal roofing can last at least 2-3 times longer than traditional asphalt roofing.
Silver-colored roofing would be a beautiful addition to your oasis plan, but the roofing offered at S.A.P. Exteriors comes in many colors as well. Both light and dark colors effectively reflect heat and reduce cooling loads in the summer, promoting environmental and economic sustainability.
cool off To cool off further during the summer, consider installing a pool or pond on your property. Christine Leonard, owner of Aqua Jet Pools, suggests using the Hayward Omnilogic Backyard Automation pool system as a chlorine alternative. It’s a salt system that makes pool maintenance easier because it controls the equipment involved and hooks up to your smartphone or other smart device for convenience. Plus, it provides clear, clean, luxuriously soft water, helping you to avoid harsh chemicals, red eyes, and strong odors.
“Owning a pool or spa is a true luxury,” Christine says. “It’s a perfect opportunity to bring family and friends together and escape from the everyday stress of life.”
water sanctuary You can also create a water sanctuary. Aside from the serenity of sitting pond-side and watching a sunrise or sunset to the sounds of croaking frogs and crickets, ponds attract butterflies and birds. Ponds actually help control the micro-climate in the surrounding environment by creating an ecological niche for plants that may not survive without pond waters.
Mike Soule, owner of Mike’s Earthworks, says that many homeowners like their ponds to be a haven for beautiful fish—such as koi and goldfish—but ponds also attract and provide a sanctuary of breeding for indigenous wildlife in the area.
the kiddies Another benefit from a pond is that it encourages children to become involved with nature and the environment at an early age, fostering their interest in creating a better future for the planet.
You can also foster environmental awareness in children by involving them in the planning of their very own biodynamic play spaces. Andrew Faust, founder and director of the Center for BioRegional Living, is renowned for using permaculture techniques to create healthy living spaces for both children and adults. “I am here on this Earth to help my fellow human beings to achieve a higher quality of life in sustainable, beautiful, and resilient ways,” he says.
The Center for BioRegional Living can help you design and build natural homes, playgrounds, and forts, in addition to gardens with native, edible, and medicinal plants.
cooking Speaking of edibles, any outdoor space is not complete without a grill. Kim Williams, vice president of retail operations at Williams Lumber, recommends browsing the store’s grilling line. One of their grills, the Kamado Jo, is modeled after an ancient Asianstyle grill with a thick wall that imparts rich smoky flavor to meats, fish, and vegetables.
“This is relatively new on the market,” she says, “and we’re so proud to be able to carry it as it offers unparalleled craftsmanship.”
Or, try one of many options at A&M Hardware. Manager Cindy Fornino says that the store carries a large selection of different sizes, styles, and colors and recommends checking out the Smokey Mountain Cooker for a culinary change-up and mouth-watering results.
Now that you’ve got some crafty inspiration for your outdoor oasis, it’s time to get planning! Contact any of the businesses listed here to get started:
A&M Hardware, Route 209, Accord
Aqua Jet Pools, 1606 Ulster Avenue, Lake Katrine
Augustine Nursery, 177 Van Kleecks Lane, Kingston
Bare Furniture, 4747 Route 209, Accord
Bell Topsoil, Hudson Valley, 845-626-0055
Cabinet Designers, Kingston
The Carpet Store, 1132 Route 32, Rosendale
Center for BioRegional Living
Country Lawnscapes, Hudson Valley
Different Strokes Painting Company, Hudson Valley
Fireside Warmth, Kingston
Hudson Valley Sunrooms, 355 Broadway, Port Ewen
Greenman Garden Design, Hudson Valley
Herzog’s Home Center, 151 Plaza Road, Kingston
H. Houst and Son, 4 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock
Howard Jarvis, Hudson Valley
Ingrained Woodworking, Hudson Valley
Mike’s Earthworks, Hudson Valley
Potter Brothers, 57 City View Terrace, Kingston
Seven Day Services, Hudson Valley
S.A.P. Exteriors, Hudson Valley
Victoria’s Gardens, 1 Cottekill Road, Rosendale
Williams Lumber, Hudson Valley