Five Reasons To Wait a Year Before Renovating Your New Backyard
If you’ve just moved into a new home in the Bay Area, we’re guessing you’re pretty excited to be there. After all, moving is no fun, and having a place of your own you can mold as you see fit is incredibly exciting. We talk to clients all the time who are new to their neighborhood, and excited to keep the renovation ball rolling.
With the purchase of their new home, they feel anxious to jump straight into the process of overhauling their outdoor space as well. We understand the temptation–after all, the best part of owning your own home is molding it into a space that’s tailor made for you, both inside and out. So it may come as a surprise when I tell homeowners that I firmly believe they should wait a while before jumping into a backyard renovation.
In fact, I think new homeowners should wait at least a full year before making any decisions regarding their outdoor living space. Why? Well, there are many reasons why being patient pays off when it comes to landscape design. But in the end, it all comes down to this:
It can be risky to develop your outdoor space before you fully understand it.
From nosey neighbors, to seasonal shifts in sunlight, there are some aspects of your property that can only be revealed with time. Here are the top five reasons to wait a year before breaking ground on your new backyard.
By far, one of the best reasons to wait a while before making any concrete landscape design decisions is the one new-home factor you have almost no say in—your neighbors.
Everyone hopes they’ll get along with the folks next door, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. This is even more common in the Bay area, where property lines can leave you with up to 5 or 6 homes bordering your own.
The last thing you want to do is install a privacy wall on the far side of your property, only to realize that a year later the people you really wish you were hidden from are in the opposite direction entirely. Furthermore, people can be hard to work with. It’s difficult to anticipate who will be upset about aspects of your backyard construction until you have lived somewhere long enough to be familiar with your neighbors.
We find that after a year, people are generally well acquainted enough with the families around them to anticipate who could delay their construction, who they’d like their backyard to be hidden from, and who they’re going to invite over for a swim in their brand new pool.
2. How Will You (And Your Family) Really Use The Space?
Whenever we move into a new space, we try to envision how our lives will unfold, and the people we will be while living there. We imagine ourselves using the space in an almost idealized way.
Maybe you really believe upon moving in that you’re going to be the kind of person who is spending long hours gardening, or wanting to hop into your spa multiple times a week to unwind. But the truth is that the idealized vision of how you will really use your outdoor space is often far from the reality.
It takes time to see your own family's preferences and patterns. To figure out what corner of the yard your kids want to play in. To know that maybe you aren’t the kind of person who is going to be spending long morning hours flexing your green thumb in a vegetable garden. The more you know about how you really are using your space, the better a final landscape design will be able to serve you and your family.
Instead of making an educated guess about how much green space your kids or your dog need, or whether or not an outdoor kitchen is something that’s worth your money, take the time to know for sure. The end result will be a space that is as functional as it is beautiful, and well worth the wait.
The next reason it’s a good idea to wait at least 12 months before renovating your outdoor space is sunlight. That’s right, the sun is one of the biggest arguments for holding off on breaking ground in your backyard. This is because until you have experienced every month of the year in your new home, you don’t know exactly how sunlight will move through your outdoor space during every season.
Say you move in during fall or winter and immediately plan for construction work to begin on a design in spring. This design is being done without firsthand knowledge of what areas of your space will need the most coverage or exposure to the sun during the summer, which also happens to be the most heavily trafficked outdoor month of the year.
Proper pool placement and pergola placement is largely contingent on knowing where the greatest amount of sun hits. Sunlight will keep your pool warmer and make the swimming experience more enjoyable. Meanwhile, a pergola is only helpful if it is working to block those underneath it from harsh, unwanted rays.
By waiting a year to make design plans you’ll be able to know where it makes the most sense to place a pool, covered outdoor living space, or even items like shade trees. Again, the wait and see approach will leave you with a final design that fits your space in the best way possible.
Another natural element that can make waiting a year worth your time is trees. Again, if you move in during a cold weather month and draw up plans to break ground come springtime, it can be easy to overlook the impact trees can have on your final design.
In cold weather months, foliage is sparse. You won’t have a toolkit of knowledge telling you which trees cast the most shade, drop the most leaves, or could pose potential problems in the remodeling process.
Watching the existing plantings in your outdoor space over the course of a full season will help you understand exactly what you are working with. This means you’ll avoid potential nuisances such as months of fishing out leaves and debris out of your brand new swimming pool.
5. You Need Time To Know What You Want
The last reason we genuinely believe new homeowners should wait at least a year before redesigning their outdoor space is simply that it takes time to understand what you really want. Just as knowing how you will use your space takes time, knowing what additional features you may want to add or subtract can take time too.
A lot can happen in a year. Pets can be adopted, babies can be born. You may find out you love hosting your friends, or realize that you have a serious need for some extra privacy, outdoor storage, or even an ADU on your property. But learning these things means leaving room to let life just happen for a while.
At the end of the day, we think the best designs are created when a homeowner truly knows their space, knows what they need from their space, and has a good idea of what factors will determine the quality of the design.
We know it can be tempting to jump into a backyard renovation, especially if you have the money to get it done. But the reality is that, when it comes to creating the perfect outdoor living space for you and your family long term, patience truly pays off.
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