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Homeowners embrace outdoor living spaces


Chris Russo and his family love their home in Franklin. But they spend as much time as possible in their yard, gathered around the fire pit in their outdoor living area, often with friends and neighbors.

“Even when it’s winter, I could stay out here forever,” Russo said.

The addition of outdoor living spaces is a growing trend. Homeowners are increasingly moving their living areas beyond the four walls of the house and extending them to the outdoors, said Phil Bates, a manager with Willow Branch Outdoor Living, a landscaping company headquartered in Brentwood. The company installed the Russos’ outdoor living area.

“People want to spend time at home now. Instead of traveling, they want to come home and relax,” he said.

As spring approaches, now is a good time to consider landscaping and outdoor living projects that can add value to a home and increase your family’s enjoyment, Bates said.

Shrinking yards

Willow Branch is participating in the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, scheduled for March 3-6 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The company charges around $5,000 for a patio and fire pit, up to more than $100,000 for larger projects.

Professionally designed outdoor living spaces are growing in popularity, even though yards are shrinking in many neighborhoods, Bates said. That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. A well-designed outdoor space can help preserve privacy for you and your neighbors.

“People have big ideas to dress up a yard but have a smaller space to work in,” he said.

Artificial replaces natural

Landscaping doesn’t always include a traditional grassy lawn anymore. Instead, some homeowners are installing artificial turf.

“You’re not using any water, and it’s recycled material,” said Mike Burbridge, whose house in Franklin’s Westhaven subdivision has a small courtyard that doesn’t get a lot of sun.

Even though it’s made with old soda and water bottles, the turf looks like natural grass. It covers about half of his courtyard, he said.

“It looks gorgeous. People say, ‘You take such good care of your lawn,’ ” said Burbridge. “On my street alone, five people have copied it.”

His courtyard, which was professionally designed and landscaped, does feature natural plants, including evergreens and a weeping willow, as well as a fountain, a copper fire pit and a pergola.

Included in new homes

The Russos and Burbridge added their outdoor spaces after purchasing their homes, but many new homes come complete with areas for outdoor living.

“It’s a second living area, but outside the home,” said Jen Lucy, director of sales for the Jones Co., one of the region’s most active homebuilders.

All of the company’s homes feature a deck, and many buyers add covered patios and fire pits.

“It wasn’t popular in days gone by, but it is now. People are more outdoors oriented, more health conscious, more active,” Lucy said.

Chris Russo and his wife, Diana Russo, purchased their home when they relocated from Tampa, Florida, in 2014. Their outdoor living project added value to the property, but the real benefit is the time they spend with their son and daughter, Vincent and Victoria.

“I think of the value it brings my family, having that area for everyone to gather,” Chris Russo said. “It makes the backyard a focal point. It’s the kind of backyard people migrate to. It’s not unusual for us to light a fire and 10 people show up.”

If you go

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

When: March 3-6

Where: Tennessee State Fairgrounds

Tickets: adults, $12; seniors, $11; under 12, $2; four-day pass, $20. Buy tickets at the door and online at www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

Article source: http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/homes/2016/02/27/homeowners-embrace-outdoor-living-spaces/80857414/