Whether you escape to the coast in the summer, seek the mountains in winter or oscillate between temperate climates all year long, you need to consider how your vacation home’s landscape will survive when you aren’t there to keep an eye on it. Because your vacation home should be a source of relaxation – not stress – you need to think ahead to ensure your landscape stays attractive year-round.
It doesn’t take long for the grass to become overgrown, for leaf litter to clog walkways, for tree branches to weaken and fall and for other elements of a once-gorgeous landscape to deteriorate. Here’s how to plan out your vacation home’s landscape to avoid worry while you’re away.
Regardless of where your vacation home is, you probably want to spend some time outside — huddled next to an outdoor fire pit or surveying a beautiful beach scene. That means you need to build a comfortable outdoor living space, which requires a good amount of hardscaping. As opposed to landscaping, which is decorating an outdoor space with flora, hardscaping is the art and science of using manmade materials to enhance any outdoor space, think decks or patios, walls, pergolas, etc.
Not only is hardscaping exceedingly functional in a vacation home, because it allows you more space to enjoy the outdoors, but hardscaping is also much easier to care for. Hardscaping doesn’t need to be watered, pruned or fertilized; it can be hosed off infrequently when you need to use it, and perhaps patched up every decade or so. While it’s not aesthetically pleasing to make an outdoor space entirely hardscape, it’s wise to create a generous hardscape in yards you won’t visit very often.
Choose Native Plants
Your vacation home is probably in a completely different climate than you are accustomed to, which means you shouldn’t try to plant the flora you might gravitate toward. The plants around your regular home require rainfall, sunlight, and temperatures that could be vastly different from those of your vacation home. If you install your typical landscaping in the wrong environment, one of two things will happen: either your plants will die with absurd swiftness, or you will expend excessive resources to keep your vacation home’s landscaping alive.
Instead, you should plan your landscaping with trees, shrubs, and flowers native to your vacation home’s region. You can do some research online or spend a few days of your vacation venturing into botanical parks or wilderness areas and taking notes on the plants you see. You might also ask locals in your vacation home’s neighborhood about native flora that won’t require much upkeep.
Research Your Turfgrass
Lawns are attractive features that tend to boost the value of a home when properly cared for — but as with other types of plants, not all grass grows in all environments. Additionally, many varieties of turfgrass require ample attention during their growing season, to ensure grass doesn’t become too tall and weak. While researching your vacation home’s climate and making an informed choice of turfgrass variety is a good first step, you should also consider hiring a local lawn mowing service to tend to your lawn in the months you’re away. Visit Porch.com to find options in your area. Then, you can return to a perfectly manicured landscape on your vacations.
It’s also smart to reduce the size of your lawn, if possible. A larger lawn is more costly to care for, and because you won’t enjoy it year-round, it’s not worth the hassle. If you have the funds, you might even consider replacing your live lawn with a high-quality AstroTurf — though fake grass can be an eyesore.
Avoid Water Features
As much as you might long for a pool at your vacation house, it’s a bad idea to put in any water feature. Even small fountains and ponds require extensive upkeep, and the systems that keep them clean often break down. Because you never want to return to your vacation home to find a dense, green swamp in your yard, you should skip the water features entirely.
Consider Outdoor Storage
At your regular house, you probably have a full set of outdoor furniture as well as garden tools, kids’ toys and more. However, if you want to have a similar covey of outdoor belongings at your vacation home, you should also have someplace to store them while you’re away. Vacation homes are prime targets for opportunistic theft; it’s usually easy for burglars to identify unoccupied homes and swipe valuable outdoor equipment and décor without fear of recrimination.
While security systems and neighborhood watches will reduce the likelihood of crime around your vacation home, you should also be careful to lock up anything you don’t want to be carried away. All outdoor belongings should be stored inside the home or in a secure shed. Then, when you return the next year, you can jump back into the vacation spirit without much delay.
You want your vacation home to be easy and breezy, and that means you need to think ahead about its landscape design. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce landscaping stress and spend more time enjoying your second home.