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What Australians are doing to enhance their outdoor areas

By Shayna Builder
Our enviable climate and love of the great outdoors make enhancing our outdoor living areas a top priority for many homeowners across Australia.

Moving to a new house or finally having the time or money to renovate are common motivations to update or completely overhaul our backyards – with some pretty spectacular results.

Read on to learn more about what Australians are doing to enhance their outdoor areas, who they’re hiring to help them do it, and how much they’re spending to get the job done right.

Outdoor entertainers
One in two Australian homeowners use their outdoor space for entertaining, the highest percentage of the 13 countries surveyed in the 2017 Houzz landscaping study. Not surprisingly, homeowners in chilly Sweden, Russia and Denmark are the least likely to use their outdoor areas for entertaining.

The vast majority of homeowners (86 per cent) update structural elements such as decks, pergolas, terraces and verandahs during an outdoor renovation project, most wanting to extend their living space outdoors for relaxation and entertaining.

Motivated for change
A third of homeowners are keen to make changes because they have recently purchased a home and want to make it their own, they finally have the time to do it, and/or they now have the financial means. The vast majority focus their renovating efforts on the back of the house rather than the front or side yards. Just 13 per cent of renovators opt to put in a pool.

Australian homeowners are also motivated to renovate in a quest to improve privacy and to correct the poor use of existing outdoor space.

Lighting up the garden
More than half of homeowners update lighting during an outdoor project to illuminate pathways and steps, decking, gardens, and pergolas, and to highlight their home’s architectural features. Of those making lighting upgrades, one in 10 installs smart LED lighting that can be controlled from a mobile device.

Professional help
Almost 70 per cent of renovators hire a professional to help them with their outdoor projects, most often stone, paving or concrete specialists (19 per cent), decking, patio and outdoor enclosure specialists (18 per cent), or landscape contractors (18 per cent). A quarter of respondents spend more than $20,000 on their outdoor projects, while 45 per cent spend more than $10,000.

Losing the lawn
Over two-thirds of homeowners have a lawn, but almost half make changes to it during an outdoor project – 22 per cent reducing its size and 10 per cent removing it altogether. Almost one in two replace their lawns with an outdoor structure such as a patio, deck or gazebo. Of those who remove or reduce their lawns, half do so to reduce maintenance.

The average landscape project takes at least six months to plan and five months to implement. January is the most common month to break ground, followed by September and February.

Structural additions
The vast majority of homeowners (86 per cent) update or introduce structures such as decks, pergolas, terraces and verandahs, and 41 per cent add a barbecue area.

Other than structural features such as decking or pergolas, garden beds and borders topped the most-wanted list for outdoor areas, followed by pathways, planters and planter boxes, lawns, fences and fences/property borders.

Picky plantings
More than three-quarters of homeowners update the plants in their outdoor area during a renovation, most opting for low-maintenance varieties. Homeowners also seek out plants that are drought-tolerant, produce flowers, fruit, herbs or vegetables, or are native to Australia.

Waste not
Another interesting trend in backyard renovations is the updating of outdoor systems to accommodate composting, with 40 per cent of respondents saying this was part of the work they had done. This reflects our national desire to join the war on waste, and to live greener, more sustainable lives at home.

Comfort factor
Outdoor lounge and dining furniture are common additions to a renovated outdoor room, but fire pits are also popular. Almost a third of survey respondents added a fire pit during their outdoor revamp.

The survey included more than 2500 Australian homeowners who are in the midst of, are planning, or who have recently completed an outdoor project. Large-scope projects are common, with more than half making substantial updates and over a third undertaking complete overhauls. Download the full Houzz Landscape Trends Study Australia here

Author: Joanna Tovia on Houzz

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