Ways to make yards, backyards conducive to outdoor living

Any backyard design idea would happen due to the local warm weather which makes it nice to relax outdoors. -AFP photo

BACKYARDS and courtyards are common features of many homes in temperate countries like Australia and New Zealand, but having such settings in Sarawak is definitely a luxury.

Many backyards here are rather limited in space, just a few square meters per unit – making it not open and spacious enough for landscaping features like waterfalls, pebble walkways and a playground.

Design ideas to explore

Don’t be discouraged though. Any backyard design idea would happen due to the local warm weather which makes it nice to relax outdoors. The site can be near the patio or by the pool, and an extension is ideal for a seating area with tables and chairs.

My friend Robert had his backyard extended to accommodate potlucks and meetings, which was just nice for a gathering of 12-15 people.

Beyond the terrace there is a verdant garden full of fruit crops such as avocado, passion fruit, pineapple, guava and lime, as well as other plants such as lemongrass, peppers and tomatoes.

To the side, it has rows of flowering plants to brighten up the terrace. The wall has cardboard boxes to place books, magazines and also newspapers, where anyone can simply choose for leisure reading.

A DIY project

As a do-it-yourself (DIY) project for the home owner, a variety of styles means we should be able to find the perfect options to suit our needs.

Here, I would like to add plants and flowers to energize the environment, for the sake of eco-responsibility. In this case, choose green potted plants that are easy to maintain.

With a few affordable purchases, we can create a beautiful space where people would feel invited to spend time together.

Arrange second-hand furniture, a coffee table and an outdoor rug on the patio.

To create the shade that is supposed to shelter us from the overwhelming light and also to make the atmosphere cooler, we can add a pagoda or other structures ‘pasang siap’ (ready to go up). This was exactly what my neighbor had done for his patio, where I enjoyed my visit to Hari Raya the other day.

An outdoor bar is a great addition to the backyard that can be used year-round.

Bar stools and a trolley for drinks, glasses and other utensils can be very practical. A bar is a good place for the backyard because it can be a hub where people gather, converse, and trade stories with each other.

Provided you have a more spacious enclosure, the installation of a hot tub or a mounted mini-pool is simply the best, especially during a heat wave.

Any water feature can add value to any home in a busy city.

I built a mini pool, measuring four feet long, 15 feet wide, and five feet deep, at home – much loved by family members and especially loved by my grandchildren.

It’s no problem to keep the water clean thanks to the automatic filtration.
The swimming pool truly opens up limitless possibilities for any outdoor hobby.

An outdoor extension is heaven for those who love carpentry, and this can be achieved by setting up a simple workshop.

A professional landscaper can design an outdoor seating area by constructing a pergola above the private seating area. Such a design is good for our tropical climate, with frequent rainfall.

It seems to be a favorite choice, especially when equipped with cooking appliances, a big screen TV and an entertainment corner, ideal for those who love karaoke.

This open concept with a simple kitchen and entertainment area makes city or country living suitable for most families.

In fact, it’s completely normal for most homeowners to extend the wet kitchen outside of the original room. Recently I visited a new house purchased by a colleague, who was very proud to show me the extension he had made to the outside where there was a full range of kitchen equipment including an oven and a barbecue cabin.

On another occasion, I visited my co-worker over New Years, who had an even larger open space extending from the dining room.

She happily showed me a large “belian” (ironwood) table three inches thick, enough to seat 10 people. This increased the well-polished “belian” floor.

Belian, by the way, is very hard to find, and it’s expensive too.

As if the table and floor weren’t enough, my girlfriend had already planned to add a custom-made pool, a fountain and also terraces to separate the lawn.

Good life !