Wanna know where I don’t see all these things? In the actual back yards of actual people, or to be more specific, in the back yards of people who don’t have a dedicated groundskeeping and housekeeping staff.
Even though the article in the Washington Post claims that more and more people are demanding outdoor living areas in their houses, I honestly wonder how any family with jobs and kids to take care of has the time or means to maintain an exquisite outdoor living room like the ones you see in the media.
I tried to have one at Braesgate. I was seduced by the beautiful photos. It came out very pretty, I thought. Here’s what happened soon after it was finished:
- Storms came and blew cushions all over the place, toppled plants, and broke decorative objects.
- Leaves fell all over every surface, thanks to the beautiful live oaks that gave us shade.
- Birds in those trees left their special calling cards and pecked away on wood things.
- Tiny birds built nests in the grill and roof area.
- Our friends the spiders spent a lot of time artfully arranging webs across every surface.
- Random bugs committed suicide in huge numbers in the light fixtures.
- Every time the neighbor ran his giant leaf blower in his yard, dust settled on all the brown tables, creating tan tables.
- The dogs sat on the orange couches and made them black couches. And that all-weather fabric holds on to dog hair like it’s precious.
- And, saving the “best” for last, mice built nests in the fancy couch cushions. That smelled GREAT. Not really.
And after spending many hours spiffing the area up, it was practically impossible to “live” in the outdoor living area, anyway. The minute you sat down to eat at the outdoor dining table, flies would make a bee-line for the food, and bees would fly to the sweet beverages. And the bats zooming around and that bug zapper spitting away in the gazebo didn’t even make a dent in the mosquitoes.
And if we tried to go “live” outside, we’d end up fleeing the sound of the neighbors “living” in their own outdoor rooms (especially their television that blasted basketball games into our yard and their small children screeching as if a murder were occurring).
Because of this, I’m highly suspicious of those beautifully staged outdoor rooms I keep seeing. Maybe they work in California or Las Vegas, where it never rains and bugs do not exist. Or on your private island with no neighbors. But everywhere I’ve ever lived has made outdoor living very difficult without good screening, at least. I guess there are some people who faithfully set out their cushions, uncover their grill, and hang the curtains and fairy lights each time they use their outdoor room, but that doesn’t sound relaxing or fun to me!
So, right now we have an ancient deck at the Bobcat Lair, with a few old chairs and some potted plants. Works fine. At the ranch, we have to periodically power wash the lovely front porch and rockers, because so many spiders and other bugs invade the space (luckily the poopy barn swallows DO cut down on the mosquitoes). I’ve given up on the back porch, and we actually have only used the outdoor fireplace once. My outdoor living is going for walks, feeding my horses, and weeding my very few flower beds. It’s all I can manage!
So, what’s your idea of “outdoor living?” Do you have a successful setup where you live? Am I just being grumpy again?