With little or no experience you can turn your yard into an ideal spot for relaxing, entertaining, or growing lush flowers, veggies, and herbs all summer long, when the New Hampshire growing season is in full swing. With this guide you can create an outdoor oasis of beauty that extends your home’s living space during the warmer months. For the rest of the year, you’ll be glad to know that living in New Hampshire doesn’t mean your yard has to be shuttered for the winter months.
With a few handy tips, you can create your own four-season outdoor paradise for year-round enjoyment. All it takes is a little know-how about outdoor design in NH, which we’ll supply here (you might want a slightly green thumb, too!). Here are 5 steps to creating an outdoor living space for all seasons.
1. Begin Planting and Go Native
To avoid the look of a home that’s plunked on a lawn, you’ll need trees and shrubs. For a varied look to your NH landscape design, go with native plants that can stand up to a harsh environment. If you’re new in your home, consider planting trees early on. One native tree that grows especially fast is Green Ash. According to the folks at PlantNative, it’s also a pretty tolerant species, so alkaline soil, drought, and salt won’t be a problem. Other native, fast-growing trees include Bigtooth Aspen, Quaking Aspen, and Pin Cherry.
Next come shrubs, which provide a visual connector between your house, trees, and the smaller elements of your landscaping like a garden path, outdoor furniture, and low plants. One that’s native to New Hampshire and which works in full sun as well as shade is Gray Dogwood.
Pro Tip: Have your soil tested. If it’s poor soil, you’ll want to choose trees that can handle poor conditions. These include Gray Birch, Pin Cherry, and for shrubs: Northern Bayberry. If your soil is alkaline, you’ll find out from the soil test. In that case, go for Ash trees, White Cedar, or Basswood trees.
2. Start With Some Granite Hardscaping
Since we’re in the lovely state of New Hampshire, we have winter to contend with. Contrary to what many homeowners believe, you don’t have to relegate your yard to a dismal, dormant state once the air turns cold and plants begin to wither and freeze. Instead, it makes sense to go with a year-round NH landscape design plan that allows you to enjoy gorgeous views from inside your home when the cold weather keeps you indoors. To that end, start with “hardscaping” projects that won’t change or budge once the snow starts falling. One idea is a stone pathway. How fitting that we’re in the Granite State: with a nod to sourcing your materials locally, consider a walkway made of granite pavers. A path connects your home to the outer reaches of your yard and creates a sense of flow and unity from one area to another.
Pro tip: A winding pathway is better than a straight one, in most cases, since it adds interest, charm and depth to your design.
3. Next, Consider Your Outdoor Furniture
Whether you intend to garden, entertain, lounge, or escape the world, you’ll want a few pieces of outdoor furniture to create a sense of personalization and introduce a human element to your landscape design. After all, your yard is for you to enjoy, not merely gaze at. An alfresco room is also a way to introduce your personal style. Chances are you’ll have to haul everything indoors in late Fall, but from May to October feel free to consider this an extension of your living room (or kitchen).
Pro Tip: Whatever style furniture you choose, adorn the “living area” with large potted plants to round out the space. Cast-iron urns are a good choice because you can leave them there in winter, when you can fill them with cut Winterberries. Scope out a nearby watershed and if you’re lucky you’ll see some to snip.
4. Now, Extend Your Seasons (on Both Ends)
One way to extend the season for enjoying your yard is to start earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall season. That’s entirely possible thanks to affordable heat lamps you can now find in home stores. No longer the exclusive domain of expensive restaurants or tropical resorts, heat lamps provide warmth on chilly autumn nights so you can enjoy your outdoor living space well into the colder season.
Fire pits are another way to ward off the chill of early spring or late fall. They also make an ideal centerpiece for gatherings of friends and family. Everyone loves to stare at a fire!
Pro Tip: If you have your heart set on a Chiminea, the classic, bulbous, front-loading outdoor fireplace from the 80’s, be warned that they don’t give off much heat.
5. Cast a Light on It All
Outdoor lighting is one of the easiest ways to turn any outdoor space into an enchanting haven. Candles, however, just won’t work in the wind so you have to get creative. Kerosene lanterns are not as high maintenance or dangerous as they’re made out to be. They’re actually quite easy to fill and even easier to light than candles (especially in the wind). They cast a warm, shimmering light over your outdoor haven, instilling a sense of wonder and magic. Plus, you can set lanterns on the table or hang them anywhere you want, to create a mood or adorn the area with light. Not sure you want to mess with Kerosene? Try string lights, especially if you have a porch, trellis, archway, or similar structures to hang them from. Home stores offer fancy types with shades for an upgraded version, but you can use X-Mas tree style lights, too. Best not to choose red, though!
Other alternatives for lighting include tiki torches, especially if you’ve taken the advice from landscaping strategy #2 (creating a granite pathway). Line your path with tiki torches in summer and you’ve got an instant party mood.
Pro Tip: In winter, looking out your window at night to see beautiful lighting in your yard can bring tranquility to the soul. Consider investing in permanent outdoor lighting that can withstand the harsh NH winters.