Rosie on House: Laying out your backyard hardscape

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Rosie on House: Laying out your backyard hardscape

Thinking about remodeling your backyard? Realtors and remodelers say improving the “outdoor rooms” at your house can make your home sell more quickly. After all, Americans are spending more and more time outside in the warmer months of the year and are creating both “great rooms” and “second kitchens.”

They’re moving entertainment rooms and moving TVs and audio equipment outside; they’re buying furniture that actually looks as good and is more comfortable than what they have in the house; they love to cook outdoors because the barbecue works more quickly than a stove or range and because they love barbecue sauce on top of almost everything.

So, here are ideas for laying out your yard’s living spaces regardless of what you plan to spend on the project:

• Think carefully about where to locate your outdoor kitchen area, landscapers tell us. You don’t want to put on extra sunscreen just to grill the hamburgers. At least put a shade structure over the barbecue and buy extra umbrellas as needed for the dining area. You might want to cover a patio with a roof or build a gazebo. You also don’t want smoke from the grill to blow into the house every time you open a door.

• Keep the outdoor kitchen as close as possible to the real kitchen indoors. Otherwise you’ll be rushing back and forth to get the ketchup or the soft drinks or whatever you forgot. Clean-up afterward can be a nightmare as well when the kitchen indoors is too far away. You might want to put in a cabinet or two to store a set of dishes and utensils for outdoor use.

• Are you interested in buying appliances for outdoor use? Dishwashers, TVs and other devices specially made for outside areas are very expensive. Refrigerators may run constantly in July and August to keep cool. In winter and the monsoon season, these devices may need to be removed or provided with extra covers and protection.

If you do have appliances like this, set them up so they have the shelter of a wall and a roof of some kind. If you need a TV, use an old set that you won’t worry about exposing to Arizona heat.

• A sink is a great idea for washing hands, rinsing off dirty dishes or cleaning up those inevitable spills. Build one into a bar area or counter so you can dispose of ice and liquids when refilling drinks.

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