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Summertime on the patio — and the living is easy
By: Eileen Wilson, Special to Home & Garden
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he great outdoors isn’t just for camping and fishing anymore. Gracious outdoor living is a popular trend, and in Placer County, we know how to do it right. What’s behind our intrigue with an alfresco lifestyle? Kathleen Sylvester of Bushnell Gardens Nursery in Granite Bay knows the answer. “Your favorite room is no longer in the house,” she said. She explained that people are looking for a restful, natural atmosphere, rather than a noisy crowded restaurant. “People are looking for a calming effect — couples need a respite,” she said. Today families are paying more attention to what their homes look like, both inside and out —a practice, she said, that can add thousands to the resale value of your home, and create a personal sanctuary. Updating your outdoor area doesn’t have to be expensive. “There are ways of doing something nice on a budget,” said Jerry Williams, owner of Granite Bay Landscaping, Inc. “For the most bang for your buck, it can be as simple as re-working planting beds, or dressing them up with bark.” The first step, he explained, is creating a master plan, which can be followed a little at a time, over the course of years. “It definitely behooves someone to have a professional help design a plan, whether it’s small or large,” Williams said. He advises against making changes piecemeal, which he says can cause an area to seem disjointed, without proper flow or theme. Williams, who has owned Granite Bay Landscaping for nine years, but has been in the masonry and landscape business for 20, said he has seen increased popularity in outdoor living spaces in the last six or seven years. “There’s something about being outside with the birds and wildlife,” he explained, to promote family togetherness and to make your house the place where all the neighborhood kids want to hang out. Granite Bay resident Kathleen Gonzalez updated her backyard for another reason. “We like to entertain, but our house is relatively small,” she said. “Now, weather permitting, I can host friends, book club and volunteer groups outdoors. We often host my husband’s family — 20 people — for pool parties, and it’s so much easier and more comfortable now.” The great climate in Northern California is perfectly suited for an outdoor lifestyle, but is also known to have extreme weather at times. Williams said the climate changes can be rough on masonry, so the buyer should choose solid masonry structures, rather than masonry that includes mesh and steel studs. “You don’t want anything that will expand and contract,” he said. Granite or concrete countertops are popular, he pointed out, as well as barbecues, pizza ovens and outdoor woks. For high-end improvements, his clients are building swimming pools, full outdoor kitchens and water features, like water curtains and waterfalls. Outdoor dining areas are becoming increasingly popular as well. Pottery World in Rocklin has a dizzying array of outdoor furniture, statuary, fountains and more. “The Cast Classics Adelante line is one of our most popular,” Trixie Porter of Pottery World said. “It’s very high-end — the copper table top is the most popular, but it also comes in black or marble.” Many table sets, like the Adelante, include additional pieces, like the chaise lounge, sofa, love seat, swivel bar chair, and as Porter pointed out, there’s no worry about discontinued lines, so buyers may purchase everything at once, or pick pieces up, one or two at a time. With gasoline prices at an all-time high, and the nightly news touting “staycations,” also known as stay-at-home vacations, improving your own backyard might be the perfect way to spend your summertime, and your summer paycheck. “I think that the way the economy is right now, people are staying closer to home. If you can make it more beautiful, more resort-like, why leave?” Sylvester said.