From Dennis and Jane Guertin | Guertin Family Realty | (952) 442-1300 |
Did you know that outdoor living areas were the top-rated "special function" room in a recent survey? Whether you're working with acreage or a condo balcony, creating an inviting outdoor space can boost your home's enjoyment factor and its market value. Here are some tips on creating the best outdoor living areas.
By the way, if you or anyone you know has a real estate need, please contact us today. We'll always provide first-class service!
Dennis and Jane Guertin
952-442-1300 Direct
9 Ideas for a Great Outdoor Living Space


Most top-notch outdoor living areas have three elements in common:  P
rivacy, protection, and practicality.  (Add "pretty" to the mix and you can end up with the perfect combination!)  While the tips below are not an all-exhaustive list, they provide popular design ideas and examples of products that could save you time and money.

1. Polycarbonate Sheet Roofing

With weather patterns all over the spectrum these days, we need outdoor living options that are not limited to sunny days. One solution for roofing is a polycarbonate product such as Polygal™, which is double or triple-layered plastic sheeting that allows light to enter but blocks much of the heat. (The Selectogal™ version allows heat to enter during cooler weather.)

This type of material is durable, provides a sleek, modern look, and is relatively easy to keep clean. 
You can see photos of Polygal™ patio and fence partition installations here, and color samples here.

2. Shade Sails

Shade sails are a decorative and versatile way to create shelter from the sun and wind, and some varieties are highly water-resistant as well. These can be a great temporary solution for condo balconies, where homeowners may not be allowed to put up permanent structures. The BackyardCity website has a variety of nice shade sail styles.

3. Roll-Up Solar Shades

Some outdoor curtains are designed to block the sun's rays while still allowing breezes to pass through. One attractive example is the Roll-Up Solar Shade, which has gotten a large number of good reviews on the  Improvement Catalog website.

4. Good Mosquito Netting

Protection from insects can mean the difference between having a relaxing evening or a fly-swatting competition. The Mosquito Curtains website offers a variety of mail-order options that appear to be reasonably priced, including custom designs.  (They also sell clear vinyl winter enclosure curtains.)

5. Privacy Screens

No one likes to feel as though they're relaxing in a fish bowl!  Depending on your outdoor set-up, the following products could come in handy:

Portable Privacy Panels:  When fencing won't fit your needs, stand-up wooden or metal privacy panels such as these ones pictured on the Improvements Catalog site can easily be placed where you need them.

Faux Greenery Screens:  It might seem a little odd to carry a hedge into your back yard and stake it into the ground, but it's certainly a quick way to create a privacy screen.  Double-sided artificial greenery can be attached to structures or used alone, then rolled up for storage during the off-season.


For condo balconies, the expandable ivy trellis may be a good option seeing as it is only 3 feet high when placed horizontally, and it compresses down to 2 feet wide for storage. (There are plenty of other faux greenery products available on Amazon.)

Polycarbonate Sheeting:  This can be used for fence partitions, or on balconies to block the view from below without losing too much light.

Shade Sails: Because they're so versatile, they can be used to block views from above and from the side, and they don't need to be placed so close that they also block the sun.

Bamboo Fencing:  This is another relatively easy way to create privacy quickly.  Here's a selection on Amazon; however, be aware that even some of the darker stained versions can fade to grey after a while, so it's a good idea to check reviews.

6. A Fire Pit

A fire pit or fireplace was rated as the most desirable outdoor design feature in a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Not only does it create a great ambiance, it also extends the usability of your outdoor space by providing a heat source. The Overstock website has a good selection of gas and wood fire pit styles, as does Frontgate.

7. Pop-Up Shelters

Is investing in a fixed outdoor structure not in your current plans?  Then consider something like a "pop-up" pergola.  Pergolas were the most popular outdoor structure in the ASLA study, and for around $500 you can purchase one like this allen + roth model that has gotten very good reviews from people who appear to leave it out year-round.

(Fixed-structure pergolas are typically open-roofed, but polycarbonate sheeting can be used to cover them.)

8. Mood Lighting

Lighting might just be the finishing touch that makes your outdoor area really special. There are far too many varieties to cover briefly, but LED copper wire lights may be worth checking out.  They've gotten good reviews on Amazon and they emit a warm light, unlike many LEDs.  Another fun and easy option could be the weather-resistant outdoor flameless candles shown here.

9. Last but Not Least... The Grill 

A grill was the third most popular outdoor design feature in the ASLA study, after fire pits and lighting.  Electric grills are often the best choice for condo owners who may not be allowed to have an open flame on their deck or balcony.

The big question:  Between gas, charcoal, smokers, and all the other grills, how does one choose? Fortunately, some people live and breathe grill-talk.  Here's a useful Grill Buyer's Guide from the passionate people at the Amazing Ribs website.

(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal or financial advice.)

Recent Market Highlights

- U.S. home prices rose 4.2 percent year-to-year in February, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller report.  They rose 5.9 percent year-to-year in March, according to CoreLogic, a data and analytics company.

- The national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has stayed under 4 percent.

The March Pending Home Sales Index rose 11.1 percent year-to-year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Contact Us for Market Information
Are you curious about your home's current market value, or do you have a question about home buying? Just reply to this email, or call us at (952) 442-1300.
View Our Featured Home Listings
Links that Make Life Easier

Sometimes real estate-related, sometimes not... these are assorted links that come in handy:

Gas Grills vs. Charcoal Grills: Which One Is Better?
The experts at Amazing Ribs explain everything you might want to know about how to choose between gas and charcoal grills.

Patio Heaters and Fans
A selection of patio heaters and fire bowls that can be used to keep your outdoor areas usable year-round.

The Gardener's Network: "How to Grow a Great Garden" FAQs
A huge online library full of helpful gardening advice.

All About Birds
Look up birds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, and find out which species are migrating through your area.  (Includes song samples.)
Capitalization Rate Calculator for Rental Properties
A free calculator for determining the return rate of investment properties.

The Lighter Side

Veteran fishing show host Bill Dance is back with more bloopers that prove fishing is a much more dangerous sport than most people would imagine. :) 

Click here or on the image to watch the video on YouTube.

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Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the next year, or could you use some remodeling advice? Even if you just need the name of a good service provider, please remember that we're always here to help you. We welcome the opportunity to serve you, your friends and associates with our expertise and recommendations.

Please give us a call today at (952) 442-1300 if we can be of assistance!
Have a great day,


Dennis and Jane Guertin
Broker/Owner, REALTOR®, CRS, SFR, CBR, e-PRO, GRI
Guertin Family Realty

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