The Backyard Battle of the Sexes
When couples get together to plan backyards, sparks often fly when they find that their wish lists are worlds apart.
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By Scott Cohen
As an outdoor designer, I frequently work with couples who run into snags when they’re trying to create a backyard they can both be happy with and enjoy. Sometimes the sparks really fly. That’s because men and women often discover that their wish lists are worlds apart.
For men, the emphasis is often on fun, action and entertainment. Bigger is usually better, especially when it comes to their barbecues. For women, cozy, relaxing and intimate are often the ground rules for just about everything from water features to outdoor fireplaces. While a man might want a screaming sound system, a huge barbecue and a gushing waterfall, the woman of the house might prefer a cozy fireplace, soft night lighting and fragrant plantings. Of course, sometimes there’s a reversal and the woman wants a party yard and the man wants a tranquil retreat. In either case, there are those sparks to manage.
Diverse pictures of the ideal backyard can sometimes bring out the worst in us, just as they do in interior design. But with a little understanding, knowledge of available options and some good old-fashioned give-and-take, you and your partner can plan a backyard that brings you together instead of one that drives you apart. Here’s how to avoid a fight scene over your backyard:
It’s always best for clients to get together to set priorities before meeting with a designer. This way you can make sure you’re both on the same page ahead of time and avoid some awkward moments. (There’s a joke in our business that we charge one price for backyard design and another higher price for marriage counseling.) Show each other examples of what you do and don’t like, and try to develop a vision together.
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