BY JOYCE TURNER-GIONET // PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON HARTOG AND BILL SMITH
It happens suddenly. Winter melts away and a new season begins. Spring fever – that restlessness brought on by buds emerging on the trees, green shoots popping up in the garden and the longer days – starts us contemplating what to do with the backyard.
Meet three local “backyard experts” who dig up a few ideas on how to create a landscape you’ll love, right outside your door.
Gary van Eijk
Landscape Architecture Technician (L.A.T) Owner, Uncommon Ground Design Group Inc.
Specialty: Landscape design with a balance of creativity and practicality
A backyard should be: A sense of place and a place of refuge – where memories are made and one can enjoy intimate contact with nature, alone or with family and friends.
When creating your dream backyard: Take stock of your lifestyle now and consider the future. Realize that your home’s architectural details are intimately connected to the space beyond its walls. Visualize your space in every season. Hire a designer with whom you are comfortable.
Favourite challenge: I love spaces where the least seems possible and the most can happen. Our design for a Hamilton Mountain estate centered around a vanishing-edge pool that appeared to spill over the escarpment, a fire pit that overlooked the city and an outdoor kitchen and cabana. Releasing the potential of that property, while challenging, was inspiring.
Eco and organic options: Creating a sustainable space can be as simple as planting trees and shrubs strategically to reduce cooling and heating costs. Using permeable pavers can allow rainwater to soak back into soil
Owner, Premium Wholesale Home and Leisure, Mississauga Location
Specialty: Premium quality brand hot tubs, spas and gazebos that blend seamlessly into the outdoor landscape
A backyard should be A little piece of heaven. Star gazing encouraged!
When creating your dream backyard: Make the hot tub/spa the focal point. Choose a style that fits your lifestyle.
Favourite challenge: Creating the perfect outdoor oasis that will relax, pamper and entertain. For those looking for the ultimate in spa entertainment, we offer a Spa Theatre System. The screen is completely watertight with anti-fog coating.
Eco and organic options: The world’s first solar-powered hot tub will be available later this year. Any hot tub relaxes, fights disease and improves sleep! The soothing effects of a thermal bath are a healthy and organic pleasure dating back centuries. Need we say more?
General Manager, The Deck Store
Specialty: The GTA’s largest independent design and build custom deck company with the largest indoor showroom
A backyard should be: Your cottage at home – a place to relax and unwind. Think of your deck space as an additional room to your home, outdoors!
When creating your dream backyard: There is more to a deck than deciding its size or shape. Consider function. Some want the satisfaction of building their own deck, some prefer the ‘we-frame-you-finish’ approach, and for others using nails, hammers and shovels is not part of the dream. We can help with all of these approaches.
Favourite challenge: To draw attention to the best aspects of the outdoor space while maintaining functionality! Many people don’t realize that the ever-popular, pressure-treated deck has an average lifespan of less than 10 years. We open their eyes to exciting alternatives.
Eco and organic options: While composite materials are more costly than wood, they generally use recycled materials such as plastics and other organic fibres like wood, flax, rice hulls or bamboo. Because they last so long, there is no need to rebuild a few years down the road. This means a reduction of wood usage and waste.