Looking to make a few improvements around the outside of your house? You’re not alone. This month we answer your questions regarding furniture, fixtures, and equipment found in your yards.

We have an in-ground pool and worry about people and pets falling in. Is there anything we can do to make it safer? 

Hopefully the pool company installed all the necessary fencing in accordance with both local regulations and your insurance policy requirements. Past that, we like zero-entry or “beach entry” pools. The very gradual slope makes it easy for little ones to play a safe distance in, and our furry friends to get out without having to navigate stairs or other obstacles. 

Pro Tip: People often complain about the look of pool fences, but it is possible to have a transparent fence to allow both a view of the pool and lovely scenery. 

While we are installing new fencing, what options should we make sure to consider?

Aside from HOA requirements or local statutes, a very practical consideration is how you plan to get items into and out of the fenced area. Where possible, we like to include at least one double-gate so that a riding mower, or other potential motorized equipment, has enough room to get through. The last thing you want is to have to remove and replace a section of fence every time you need to get something in or out.

Pro Tip: Auto-closers are another handy upgrade. These spring powered hinges will help keep the dog from slipping out because you forgot to close the gate behind you.

We hate the cheap plastic planters that most of our plants come in.  What nice options are there? 

Planters come in many nice options. There are traditional terracotta ones, durable fiberglass, and virtually maintenance free stone pieces just to name a few. Check out to see some of our favorites.

Pro Tip: Drainage is incredibly important to the health of your plants. If the planter does not have a hole in the bottom, you can often make your own with a drill and some patience.

I want a really inviting light scheme in the yard. How do I achieve that? 

Outdoor lighting follows many of the same principles as indoor lighting. You still want general, task, and accent lighting as well as overlapping zones. Flood lights, path lights, stair lights, and accent lights are your basic building blocks. You can wash walls, illuminate flora, and outline walkways to create the feeling and experience you’re looking for.

Pro Tip: Try to purchase “Dark Sky” compliant lighting. It is widely available and helps combat light pollution which disrupts both humans and the animals that live around us.

I purchased expensive wood furniture and the beautiful color has faded. Was my furniture defective? 

There are many species of wood, but only a handful are typically used for outdoor furniture. Teak is the most common and, as with anything else, will eventually be faded by the sun. On the bright side, many people consider the silvering of teak to be part of the natural beauty of the wood. Should you really want to avoid the color fading, you could consider cast aluminum pieces like we have. The road paint that covers ours lasts for years, and worst case, it can be repainted.

Pro Tip: Another benefit of cast aluminum is that the substantial weight keeps the pieces from blowing around in anything short of dangerous winds.

This feature appears in the June issue of Haymarket-Gainesville Lifestyle Magazine, available on June 1 at these locations. 


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