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August 04, 2014

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You may need to see what you would do in your new climate over the year.

A friend of mine who lives in Austin Texas grills outside all the time to keep the heat out of his house especially during the summer. A good quality grill or ability to cook outside may have benefits that you did not have in Michigan.

I have a very strong opinion on this one. Go with the screened-in porch. We had a deck connected to the back of our house and almost never used it. (It was too hot, too many bugs, wet,...) About 3 years ago we turned the deck into a screened-in porch. Now it has a roof with lights and fans and we eat out there around 30-40% of the entire year. I also put a TV outside and will use this space to relax and watch TV on weekends or summer evenings.

A screened-in porch with nice outdoor furniture becomes another room in your house. It is the second most used family space in our house now. We have lived in this house for 12 years and I can't believe I waited this long to enjoy our outdoor space.

We have a deck and a screened-in breezeway and neither one gets a lot of use. My husband would like a patio, to put a fire pit on. I have no interest in an outdoor kitchen and would only want an indoor pool.

Our favorite feature is our outdoor screened lanai. It's partially roof covered, but the part that has the in ground pool is just a screen overhead. It's about 1000sqft and basically doubles the size of or house and we use it all year round. We cook on the grill, have our main dining table out there, and are even considering installing a full sink in there, too for gardening and the occasional rinse off when cooking outside.

An outdoor kitchen and/or a pool would be pretty amazing for us. Maybe one day! :)

The orientation of your home is important for some of the outdoor amenities. Our home faces North which makes for a nice patio location on the South side. We have a patio cover with the cover made from redwood 2x4's, running North to South, spaced a few inches part that provide a nice filtered shade on sunny afternoons. The patio itself is concrete, now covered with used brick, and is where we have a couple of chaises and a table and chairs that look out on to a lawn with lots of trees surrounding it.

One side of the home has a nice flat space that was perfect for my vegetable garden where I have nine 4x8 raised beds in which I grow a variety of vegetables. On the other side I have fruit trees that are no longer very prolific due to the absence of bees as our valley has changed from orchards to hi-tech companies.

One other area in the back yard started off as a deck, it then became a hot spa, later converted into a fishpond and waterfall, and most recently the fishpond was recently converted into a rock garden. We have lived in the home since 1977 and have found that some changes seem appropriate as you get older and as the children leave home.

A recent addition to our back yard that brings us a lot of pleasure is a bird feeder for goldfinches, that we love to watch. The birds tell their friends and their population has grown a lot to the point where a 50lb sack of Nyjer seed ($50) now lasts less than 3 months.

Depends on where you live. Screened in back porch makes my place much more usable during the summers due to bugs in Indiana. I also have my grill out there and it allows me to cook out all year, vs only when I can get a clear day.

Have you considered a built in fire pit? If your not going to screen in your porch I think it's a great idea. We love ours. It's the focual point of our spring summer and fall entertaining. You can cook on it or just roast mashmellos and enjoy a summer evening.

I'd love a screened porch on my yard as it takes the sun all day long. You would think some of the sheds would cover it but it doesn't help much for myself.

We are building a new home with a covered, screened deck with a lower open patio underneath. (Walk-out basement) I plan to use that deck a lot.

@Old Limey - Have you ever considered, if you have the acreage, planting a man-installed 'natural' wildflower meadow? You don't need much land, but by doing such, and re-introducing the most favored native species, can often attract pollinators. If the meadow is large enough, you may find it enough to fully sustain itself and your fruit trees.

I have a deck and will likely go with screeing it in in the near future. Its current use is limited because of sun angle in the late afternoon/evening and exposure to the bugs we get (even with sprays I tend to get bitten). Screening it in would solve much of that and let us enjoy it much more of the year.

After we paid off our house we did a huge remodel by adding some outdoor living on our second floor (about 1000sq ft worth). Half of it is covered and screened in, half just a porch (between the two is one single long retractable screen that can be raised to make it one large, half shaded space or lowered when the bugs are out).

It was expensive and I'm sure wasn't a good net return investment....but its absolutely amazing (I treat it like a living room and live outside half the year now) and so I can't imagine selling and moving anyway...

@JN
I don't have acreage, our lot is just 1/3 acre. A good friend of ours that I used to work with started his own business, has done very well, and lives on the top of a hill in a great part of Silicon Valley called Monte Sereno with acreage and beautiful views of the Santa Cruz mountains. He started off with a normal valley type garden but soon found that the deer came in and ate everything right away. He then redid the area using native species and is very proud of the effect it produces. Like myself, he is a nature lover, but unlike him I live down in the valley in suburbia.

The Pool question is really relative to your location. If you live in south and can get 6 to 8 months of use, a pool is definitely desirable. That same question is radically different in the north where you may get two or three months of use a year out of a pool. It likely is not a good option up there. Living in New England, while I would love a pool, two months a year we could use it definitely means it is something we will not be doing.

Good call on the pool - I live in AZ, perfect pool country...ehhh...lots of work - had one all the time in my backyard when growing up. Became another chore (like yardwork).

Good call, too, on rocks - we have a xeriscape yard with drip system - I weed every now and then, but have sprayed down emergent and wow, hardly any weeds.

We have a nice landscaped yard - aren't out there much as it's hot, but love looking at it, the plants and hummingbirds and I have a small raised garden vat...have tomatoes. Simple and yet all looks nice and tidy.

If a gas grill counts as an outdoor kitchen, then my house has all of those! I have to admit, the pool is expensive, but it sure is nice.

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