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Even though landscape and patio space is often overlooked, outdoor renovations and redesigns frequently pack the biggest punch. Your outdoor space is your first chance to inspire and make an impression on neighbors and guests, so sprucing it up can give your blah house a much-needed boost. Because such dramatic changes can cost a pretty penny, it’s important to carefully consider your options before delving in. Set your budget ahead of time, and work carefully with your designer to make sure you stick to it. Research materials and landscaping techniques that are appropriate for your location and style, and don't forget about all the components: landscape, patio or porch and pool. More 
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New spanish-hacienda style residence in La Honda, California. © Bernardo Grijalva Photography
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What do I do with my landscape?


When making changes to your front yard or backyard, be sure to consider what makes sense for your home and the weather. For those in dry desert climates, avoid water-thirsty grass and opt for succulents, which require very little water yet still add beauty to your yard. On top of thinking about climate, consider maintenance as well. If you have the time and energy to work outdoors every weekend, a flower or vegetable garden would be a worthy investment. If all that effort isn't in your future, consider a nice rock or stone water feature instead. Finally, think about what works for your family. Some plants and flowers are poisonous for pets, and kids should have plenty of grass to run around and play with friends. Your yard should act as another outdoor room, so plan it that way.

What do I do with my patio or porch?


During the summer, your outdoor space is key for entertaining; after all, when the weather is nice, most people don't want to be stuck indoors. With a few key components, your patio or porch can easily be turned into an entertainment haven. Of course, your space wouldn't be complete without a grill. You can upgrade your current one by installing a built-in grill, complete with prep station, countertop and mini fridge. To become the neighborhood party house, you should also invest in a fire pit and hot tub, which are both great for those cooler nights. If expensive renovations are out of your reach, add new furniture and accessories for a cheaper yet effective end result. A traditional concrete patio can get a major makeover with new patio furniture and lighting, and your front porch can get an boost with adirondack chairs or classic rocking chairs.

Should I invest in a pool?


Once again, weather is key. If you live in a state that is warm only four months out of the year, an outdoor pool might not be worth the splurge (though an indoor one might be). Consider how often you and your family go to the neighborhood pool — your current frequency of use is a good way to determine how often you would use your own. Also think about what you treasure most: yard space or swim space. A pool takes up a lot of your backyard, so you should carefully consider your needs before taking the plunge. Finally, keep maintenance in mind. Having your own swimming spot means a lot of cleaning, chemical maintenance and draining as the seasons come and go, so be sure you are prepared and willing to commit.
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