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  • Writer's pictureGig Harbor Living Local

Beautifying Your Home on the Outside

Creating aesthetic appeal for your outdoor space

By Jillian Chandler

Photo Courtesy of Shellscapes

For most of us here in Gig Harbor, our home is our sanctuary. The place we go to retreat after a busy day, whether that be from work, school, activities or errands. It’s the place we’ve invested our hearts and souls in, as well as our hard-earned money. It’s where memories are made and time is cherished. Over time, we make the necessary upgrades as they are needed and changes to reflect our current style.

This extends to the outside of the home as well, from replacing our roofing, decking or driveway to updating the yard and garden space.

As the much-anticipated summer months are edging closer, now is the perfect time to get to work outdoors, planning and preparing your outside sanctuary for the long summer days of enjoyment and entertaining.

Everything we put into our home is done so with love and care, and of course a lot of time—and money. So, it is important to focus on tackling projects that will leave us feeling rewarded—and our home more valuable—at the end of the day.

There are many benefits gained from focusing on creating an eco-friendly outdoor space. If you're looking to cut down on the amount of space covered by lawn, you can create a look encompassing a small lawn space—and cut down on water use—by planting native plants or covering with mulch, rocks or crushed oyster shells.

Mulch can be used in your garden beds or around plants, and, if you're opting for organic mulches, there are options ranging from hardwood and softwood chips, bark and cocoa bean hulls to evergreen needles, leaves, grass clippings and more!

Because organic mulches decompose, please note that they will need to be replenished on a regular basis. Benefits include stifling weeds (less time spent weeding!), retaining moisture (less watering) and keeping the soil cool. Especially in areas where there are water restrictions, mulching is a great option.

Another possibility is the use of rock, stone or lava rock. You can choose various sizes and colors to best complement your space and purpose.

If you are looking for a unique—and aesthetically attractive—way to update the outdoors of your home, whether that be your driveway, vegetable garden, pathways and more, there’s a trend that’s growing, and it’s environmentally friendly. Did we mention it’s gorgeous too?

Mark and Julie Soboil spent the summer of 2020 renovating their property on Bainbridge Island, deciding to incorporate oyster shell into their landscape design. Finding themselves unable to source any shell locally, Mark seized the opportunity—and his knowledge and relationship with local oyster farmers—to source and supply oyster shells to the Pacific Northwest. And Shellscapes was born.

“Our oyster shell is sustainably harvested, and the majority of the materials arrive from within 50 miles of any home along the Puget Sound,” shares Mark. “It provides excellent drainage, and its porous quality allows rainwater to permeate into the ground. It also acts as a natural fertilizer, enriching the soil with naturally occurring calcium carbonate found in the oyster shells, helping to neutralize acidic soils.”

Oyster shell also offers the benefit of keeping away garden pests including moles and slugs, while also minimizing weed growth.

According to Mark, crushed oyster shell is natural, beautiful and functional—“and connects us to the ocean.” He recommends the use of crushed oyster shell in areas where you would normally apply gravel, concrete, pavers or small stone. “Courtyards, pathways, driveways, fire pits, outdoor kitchen, and around the perimeter of raised garden beds, are a few places where crushed oyster shell works well,” he says. “Its clean look and feel create stunningly unique landscapes guaranteed to beautify your home and increase value.”

For those looking for a way to beautify their driveways or pathways, crushed oyster shells, when properly laid, can last a long time and require very little maintenance. “Site preparation is important; topsoil and excess debris are removed at a depth of between two to three inches, the area is graded, and the shell is compacted depending on desired specifications. The crushed shell is permeable, however, it also contains natural binding properties making it ideal as a driving or walking surface.”

To add visual appeal and value to your home, all it takes is a little research and time to discover what avenue works best for you and your dream outdoor space.

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