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Home Improvement 2006  

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  Our interactive package takes you on a room-by-room tour of new ideas at various cost levels.
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  Outdoor  
 
 
 

Project: Outdoor remodel
Homeowners today consider the yard a place for outside entertainment and enjoyment rather than a place to work on the weekends.
Seventy-five percent of homeowners participate in some type of lawn or gardening activity, according to a 2004 survey by the National Gardening Association, spending an annual average of $449. Only 31 percent of homeowners do what they consider a "landscaping project" and spend an average of $339 annually.
One big trend: built-in features for outdoor entertaining -- built-in hearths and barbecues to fully installed outdoor kitchens, homeowners are finding ways to extend living and entertaining to outdoor spaces.
They are using elemental features, like fire and water, to add interest to patios. Fire pits, or chimineas, are popular choices, says P. Allen Smith, author of "P. Allen Smith's Colors for the Garden." And small water features like waterfalls or ponds are also well liked.
So is color. Homeowners are enlivening outdoor areas with plants and shots of hot colors. Small shrubs, grasses and cascading plants spill out of containers sporting bright shades of orange, pink, green and blue. Plain, painted or ultraglossy terra cotta pots are big. So are elegantly distressed containers and planters in unique and unusual shapes, says Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturalist for the National Gardening Association.
And homeowners are using their yards to bring a little fun into their lives with games, says Roger Cook, landscape contractor for the TV show "This Old House. From traditional lawn sports, such as bocce, badminton and croquet, to less common backyard pursuits including ice hockey,
That means grass, while still a yard staple, isn't getting all the attention anymore. "No one wants to be a slave to mowing grass for two to three hours," says Cook. "Grass will never disappear totally. But the whole yard doesn't have to be grass."

Picture courtesy of P. Allen Smith
-- Posted: April 12, 2006

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