The first long weekend of summer has come and gone, and it turned out to be a lovely one. I hope you got a chance to get outside and enjoy the fine weather. Did you hit a patio downtown, go to the beach (despite new parking charges that just took effect at Port Stanley) or just stay home and relax? I bet there were some of you that wanted to stay home, but the sight of your own not-so-stellar patio drove you elsewhere to enjoy the summer temperatures. No worries though, as summer is just beginning and there is plenty of time to plan a backyard makeover.

For starters, what are your wishes, wants and desires? Do you dream of an outdoor kitchen? Would you like to create a relaxing outdoor living room to lounge in after a long day at work? Have you been promising the kids a backyard fire pit to roast marshmallows over for ages now? Or does your deck just need a new coat of paint to make it shine again? From simple projects for weekend warriors, to more complex designs to discuss with your contractor, your backyard deserves to shine this summer.

Once you have your needs worked out, the next step is to figure out how to make them a reality. Does that mean a trip to your local big box store, a phone call to an outdoor designer or a consultation with the bank to help your dreams come to fruition? If the upgrade brings a measure of happiness to you and improves the look of your backyard, then it is all worthwhile.

Of course some projects bring more value to a home than others. Your compromise of an above-ground pool, versus the more expensive in-ground pool, adds nothing to the resale value of your home. That being said, an in-ground pool really only adds value if you live someplace where it can be used regularly (thinking longer seasons) and often (daily laps anyone?). They require plenty of maintenance, plus are sometimes seen as a deficit for families with young children, thereby reducing your potential buyer pool when it comes time to sell. Tell me that you would have turned down a visit to your neighbour’s pool this past weekend though with temperatures in the high 20s here!

One of the best backyard improvements that you can do for your return on investment is ultimately the humble deck. If you don’t have a deck, but have the space for one, this renovation project is one you should consider. It increases your home’s living space, boosts its outdoor appeal and ultimately saves you money that you would otherwise spend on costly vacations. In fluctuating markets, “staycations” are where it’s at! Even more so, if you aren’t planning on moving any time soon. Think built-in seating, storage options and maybe even an extra bell or whistle like an outdoor wet bar. You won’t ever want to leave your dream backyard again!