A pergola provides shelter over wicker patio furniture and a TV in a relaxing backyard space.

A pergola provides shelter over wicker patio furniture and a TV in a relaxing backyard space.

Photo provided by Mic Karwowicz


Transform your backyard into a relaxing getaway

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published April 4, 2018

 A backyard living area includes a tile patio, a fireplace, perennials and green screening.

A backyard living area includes a tile patio, a fireplace, perennials and green screening.

Photo provided by Mic Karwowicz

 Mature trees surround a backyard patio and in-ground swimming pool as part of a backyard oasis.

Mature trees surround a backyard patio and in-ground swimming pool as part of a backyard oasis.

Photo provided by Mic Karwowicz

 Tiki torches provide ambient lighting in a backyard area featuring a fireplace and outdoor kitchen.

Tiki torches provide ambient lighting in a backyard area featuring a fireplace and outdoor kitchen.

Photo provided by Mic Karwowicz

METRO DETROIT — We all know how hectic life can get.

Local landscape experts have some tips about how to catch some relaxing moments outdoors at your home, especially as the weather warms up.

Mic Karwowicz, owner of Washington Township-based Great Escape Landscaping, said many of his clients are looking to create an extension of their home by building an outside living space.

“A lot of times we put pergolas up, and fire pits are real nice, as well as water features, and then hedges and mood lighting throughout the landscape, which creates that ambiance that people are looking for,” Karwowicz said.

He said a new trend is LED lighting, including the popular LED tiki torch option.

“The tiki torches have a light, and it’s all connected through the Wi-Fi and your phone, so you can control your lighting system or water feature from your phone, and you don’t have to worry about playing with a dial,” he said. “It also adjusts for daylight saving and so forth.”

Outside bars and kitchens are also popular options for backyard living spaces, he said. A lot of people, he said, are opting for wood-burning stoves.

“A variety of perennials also look nice,” he said. “Hydrangeas usually do well in Michigan — they can do multicolored or just white. Boxwoods give them structure, and lavender and sage give that summer mood that helps everybody get in the season, because they’re so vibrant.”

For screening, Karwowicz said a common tree to create a privacy wall is arborvitae. 

Instead of a dedicated garden space in the ground, he said he has seen a lot of people go for container gardens that include both vegetables and ornamental flowers for a more decorative — and portable — look.

When choosing stone, he said that popular colors among his clients are gray and earth tones, with tile borders.

“As for furniture, I mostly see some kind of wicker or something like that, that is lightweight and easy to move,” he said.

Dave Barlow, owner of Troy-based Landscape Design, recommended planting landscaping grass in containers for an easily manageable look. Depending on the variety, he said landscaping grass can grow to between 2 and 6 feet tall.

“It’s inexpensive and it doesn’t require a lot of care,” he said. “You don’t have to water it, and it grows to a certain height and stays there.”

He also recommended using arborvitaes for screening in backyards, but said that cedar is also a good choice for Michigan soil. For shade, he recommended deciduous trees, especially flowering fruit trees, such as pears, for a pretty touch.

Installing a gazebo, he said, is also a good way to add a shaded, relaxing nook.

“We offer a service where we reset pavers,” Barlow said. He added that he also offers polymeric sand, which fills and seals the cracks between pavers and prevents ants, moss, weeds and grass so that homeowners don’t have to constantly clean them.

Growing herbs in containers can provide a sense of accomplishment by incorporating fresh, homegrown products from the outside into dinners. In a large pot, he said, people could grow up to three or four different types of herbs.