Woman sitting on a patio chair relaxing at home by the lake

What do gardeners want? Houzz.com tells us in new survey 

newDonnawebEven if you are reading this column you don’t actually want to garden. What you really, really want most in your garden is easy maintenance and outdoor living. I realized this after reading the new Houzz.com garden survey online (http://bit.ly/1NUnvls). Yes, it’s true. Most gardeners’ responding to the survey just wanted to sit in the garden and do as little as possible.

And if you bought a new home recently you are more likely than others to develop an outdoor sitting space immediately and get right to the business of lounging.

Houzz followers buying new homes plan to spend extra money buying outdoor furniture and developing colourful, low maintenance beds to surround their new sitting space. And after this space is designed and built, the top use for the renovated outdoor area is simply this: relaxing.

But do you have to buy a new house to build a new patio? No you don’t. It’s a common joke among my friends that almost as soon as one of us renovates our home, we sell it. So focus hard here.

Why not renovate your garden even if you are not buying or selling your house?

Most of my clients and friends prefer patios instead of raised decks for sitting on and relaxing. This is because new lots are, at best, only 4-6 feet (1.25- 2 metres) from the property line. There is simply no way to effectively screen this narrow space with trees when you are close enough to reach over and pass the salt.

A patio offers more opportunity for outdoor privacy than a raised deck. Like sheer curtains, shrubs shelter and shade the sitting area around a patio while trees create a screened overhead. Lilacs, for instance, are shrubs that would be too bushy and short to screen between two closely spaced raised decks. But lilacs are the perfect shrub for screening a ground-level patio. An arbour, pergola or outdoor structure adds overhead screening until your trees mature and take over the task.

As the survey says: flowers, drought tolerance and easy maintenance are the most desired features by homeowners after the entertainment area is built. Lilac, nannyberry, wayfaring tree, red elder and mockorange shrubs have it all: they bloom, are drought tolerant and are easy to maintain.

So summer is short, but with big shrubs and new furniture, you will soon be sitting pretty in your new outdoor patio surrounded by blooming, low maintenance and undemanding shrubs. And that’s exactly what the Houzz survey said you really really want to do this summer.

Donna Balzer is a garden writer and entertaining speaker. Check out her blog at www.gardenguru.net or follow her on twitter @NoGuffGardener.