Above ground swimming pools have long been viewed as the distant second choice for backyard swimming pools. According to an article on the benefits of above ground pools, that view may be changing. Today’s above ground pools aren’t the clunky metal (or worse–blow-up) beasts of old. They come in a variety of sizes and materials, and can be anything from large recreational pools to dedicated lap pools. While they might not increase the value of your house the way an in ground pool can (also read: Does a Swimming Pool Increase Your Property Value?), they can go with you if you decide to move.
Remember when fixing up the backyard just meant some landscaping or perhaps adding a pool? Outdoor living (which includes everything from building soothing water gardens to installing entire outdoor kitchens for entertaining) is becoming more and more popular. The backyard is the new living room, at least in warm months. Additions like outdoor fireplaces can tack on a couple more months of usuability at the beginning and ending of those warm months as well. An article in the Arizona Central takes a look at outdoor trends in Arizona, noting that “proper landscaping can increase your home’s value by 25 percent or more, and if it will also add value to your lifestyle, then you’ve got a winning combination.”
If you have a pond or a pool and always thought floating lights would be a nice addition, why not try solar powered lights? Since they’re powered by the sun, no need to change batteries or worry about electricity, and floating pool lights create a neat look in your backyard at night. Most are small enough that they could be used in a water garden or even a bird bath as well.
More information on pool lighting or view products for sale at Smart Home.
If you’re thinking about building a swimming pool in the backyard, there’s more to it than just hiring a contractor and digging a hole. According to the Pool Idea Book, a pool is considered a major construction project and anytime you do something like that local officials and utility companies are going to want to chat with you. Before you get started, you should check your local zoning laws, building codes, and safety/health codes. You’ll also need to take a look at your property deed and any restrictions that might be in place because of “subdivision covenants” (p. 17).
Last night on ABC Extreme Home Makeover, they gave one of the families a swimming pool, a hot tub, and… misting cactuses (or is that cacti?). It was the first I had heard of such things, but the fog looked like a neat effect. The company that makes them, Cool Zone USA, says the purpose of the misting cactus is to cool down residential yards and homes in hot climates. Here’s a misting cactus in its natural milieu.
If you’ve ever considered adding a pond to your backyard, the Certified Aquascape Contrator site may be a good place to start. They offer a wealth of information on everything from water garden shapes and options, pond biology, how to build ponds and water gardens, how to create waterfalls, and how to handle maintenance. If you’re not ready to dig up the backyard, you might be interested in the Half-Barrel Pond page, an informative site about building small but thriving ponds in regular barrels that have been cut in half. The pictures on the page show an interesting array of plant life that the owner has cultivated in his half-barrel ponds.
Portable hot tubs (those purchased from a dealer rather than custom-built) are all looking fairly similiar these days. Remember those round wood hot tubs that Hollywood made popular back in the 70s? Instead of being fueled by gas or electricity, they were fueled by wood-burning fires. Technology may have made them nearly obsolete, but there are still those who enjoy the idea of soaking in a wood-fired hot tub made from cedar planks with the crackling of a fire in the background.
If that sounds appealing to you, check out Snorkel, a company in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in making those old-fashioned hot tubs with modern day technology.
With outdoor fireplaces, water gardens, and pools and spas growing in popularity, the backyard is becoming the new living area. The large, open areas make it ideal for entertaining. And if your guests are going to get hungry, as guests have a tendency to do, you’ll need to feed them.
Your menu need not be limited to what you can barbeque any more. Outdoor kitchens, complete with wood-burning ovens, are expanding the possibilities. Instead of ordering pizza, a wood-burning oven lets you make your own. They’re not limited to that, though. Wood-burning ovens are excellent choices for roasted, baked, and grilled dishes as well.
Got a backyard swimming pool or spa? There are all sorts of new technologies coming out to make care and maintenance easier. Swimming Pool Maintenance Meets Technology is an article that discusses automating things like lighting timers, pumps, heaters, and chemical distribution. Safety is also mentioned with a look at some of the options available to lessen the likelihood of accidents in and around your pool, especially important for families/neighborhoods with lots of kids.
Remember when a luxury swimming pool was a kidney-shaped deal in the backyard? Modern pool building technology knows no bounds. Vanishing edges are very trendy today, a feature that makes the end or side of the pool seem to disappear into thin air. For more information on this and other residential pool trends, visit Swimming Pool & Hot Tub Information‘s article on Pool Design Trends.