Fans of Matt Blashaw, one of the hosts of DIY Network’s Yard Crashers, usually have to simply hope to run into him at their local home improvement store. (The concept of the show is that Blashaw and his crew then “crash” the lucky shoppers’ homes and help with their weekend projects.) Denverites, however, will have a guaranteed chance to tap his expertise when Blashaw presents his favorite backyard makeover tips at this month’s 2017 Denver Home Show (March 17 to 19). Plus, Blashaw began his career here in the Mile High City, so he knows firsthand the challenges and advantages of living in Colorado. We caught up with him to chat about creating outdoor spaces that work year-round.
5280: You’ve lived in Denver. How do we make the most of our backyards here in Colorado?
Blashaw: I think it’s about creating a versatile space that can be used all year long. I know it can get very cold and very hot in Denver, but everyone here already knows it’s a great place for an outdoor room. To create that, I think a fire feature is almost essential. I love an actual fireplace, but there are lots of options available.
Next, create some kind of shade structure. I like a pergola with heavy curtains. You can close them in the winter and curl up by the fire; then in the summertime, you can open the sides up while still enjoying the shade.
What trends do you like right now?
I touched on it a bit, but I really like creating a living room outdoors. It’s not just about throwing a picnic table on the patio anymore. People are hanging chandeliers and creating beautiful relaxing spaces.
What’s an easy, DIY weekend project that will transform an outdoor space?
There are a few things. Probably the easiest thing to do is purchase masonry paint [found at a concrete specialty store], and roll a new modern paint color over your current concrete patio. Pick up a modern gray or caramel color, and for $25, it looks like a new patio.
If you want to put in a little more effort, consider creating a pathway in your yard. First pick up some thick bender board [often used to keep grass out of flower beds] and create a walkway in whatever shape or form you like. You fill it in with decomposed granite from a home improvement shop and use a plate compactor to compress it before filling in another layer of the granite. It comes out looking like an English garden.
What job should homeowners leave to the professionals?
Definitely pavers; don’t do those yourself. They really require a professional foundation—almost like a house—otherwise, a year later it looks like an earthquake hit. It’s expensive, I know, but it’s worth it in the long run.
What’s your favorite way to relax in a backyard once it’s finished?
With a glass of red Zinfandel wine in front of the fireplace. It’s pretty perfect.
If you go: The Denver Home Show runs from March 17 to 19 at the National Western Complex. Find Blashaw on the Fresh Ideas Stage on Friday at 4 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 online or $11 at the door.