More People Are Making Small Backyard Improvements as Summer Draws Near

by Jen Breda

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected many travel plans. Dreams of Florence in June or Caribbean island-hopping in late spring are seemingly out of reach. And with remote work or changes to employment on the rise, it’s likely that our current circumstances have many of us spending more time at home than ever before.

Aside from the negative effects of government-mandated lockdowns, this time has also afforded many the opportunity to reconnect with their home life, their atmosphere, and most importantly, their families. Quality time and healthy home life have long been documented to have a significant positive impact on emotional and behavioral health, especially in children. Over these last months, we’ve witnessed a barrage of social media uploads depicting families who have taken up simple activities like board games and roasting marshmallows in the backyard. For many, these moments serve as a much-needed respite–a sort of mental vacation.

A massive increase in time spent in the house these last months have also reminded us of nature’s positive impact on our mental health. With so many trips abroad on hold and CDC distancing guidelines continuing for the immediate future, there has been an increasing trend of homeowners making both their indoor and outdoor spaces more habitable. Everyone from suburban families to urban dwellers have adopted some sort of environmental change–even if said change was simply a backyard firepit or a new house plant.

Small Projects Matter

No matter the project size, big or small, it isn’t farfetched to say that improving one’s space is a clear shortcut a happy summer–even if we can’t make that annual island trip. Top NYC Metro Area landscape designer and best-selling author Steve Griggs, has noticed these trends along with many of his colleagues, have also seen an increasing demand for small home projects. Griggs is someone who has made a career of pulling back the curtain when it comes to home improvement and sharing industry secrets on getting the backyard your dreams–particularly in his tell-all book “Straight Dirt” available on Amazon.

“So many of us are home and finally have time to walk around our properties,” Griggs explained. “Homeowners are finally getting to notice what needs to be done. A great home life creates a sense of security. A home is a place where you make memories, unplug and reconnect with the things that matter most–sun, nature, fresh air and most importantly family. This experience we are all going through makes us reflect and cherish family life more than ever.”

Backyard atmosphere by Steve Griggs Design.

Under his tri-state-based brand, Steve Griggs Design, Griggs has taken on a variety of project sizes for this upcoming summer. While his company has historically worked on some of the most prominent homes in the New York Metropolitan Area, he has recently launched his Summer at Home program. This new initiative opens up his services a la carte to help homeowners improve every aspect of their environment, no matter the size. With decades of experience, designers like Griggs can be fundamental in identifying even the smallest details that can improve a residential space. And with the potential of a quarantined summer and travel bans, an improvement at home, even a better backyard, sounds about in line with a vacation right off your doorstep.

A New York backyard and firepit by Steve Griggs Design.

What You Can Do

Experts like Griggs are luckily more in reach than ever before but there are some small projects homeowners can build themselves such as DIY projects that can make a huge difference.

“One idea I love is the bird feeder project,” Griggs said. “I did it myself using a couple of inexpensive bird feeders and filling them with birdseed. It is truly amazing what flys into your yard. I never ever noticed the different colors of all the birds. The kids absolutely love it.

Also plant some annual flowers for color,  a small fire pit for making s’mores, vegetable garden, herbs, for instance, are super easy. Anything that can help you connect with family. Let the kids plant and grow there own food. There is nothing like fresh black organic topsoil.”

With an addition like smaller projects such as a fire pit, you can also plant flowers around the yard to add color.  These small projects give the family something to look forward to. Simply engaging in sort of activity can bring the family together, and it gives each of us something to do to get out of the house. Kids especially enjoy these new features to their homes because it’s a fun activity for them.

How COVID-19 Can Affect Home Improvement

Fortunately, when it comes to having work done in the yard,  laborers will be outside rather than walking through homes. That means it is possible for work to be done while under the CDC’s current restrictions–especially here in New Jersey. It’s important for the clients to be aware that the workers are willing to communicate with them about what they are most comfortable with. For example, Griggs likes to keep in contact with clients through specific lines of communication. “This is best done through daily updates with the client regarding how many men to expect on each day. If we have to knock on the door, as in knock and then step away from the door, it’s imperative to be very aware of everyone’s surroundings,” Griggs said.

In today’s new normal, workers will also wear masks and gloves while at a client’s home, and they will also social distance themselves from the clients. For the most part, it is easy to continue the job while taking the CDC rules into consideration. Regardless of the home project at hand, it’s clear that more homeowners are paying attention to their outdoor spaces more than ever. As society continues to navigate through uncertain times, individuals will find peace and comfort at the root of their lifestyle–at home.

If you’re interested in contacting Steve Griggs, you can drop him a line via his website or by calling 914-879-5602

About the Author/s

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Jen is a contributing writer at The Digest and a life-long New Jersey resident.

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