How to get your backyard ready for your staycation

The backyard staycation.  This is the newest trend among Americans.  This is the idea that you can put your money into your own backyard to transform it into a place where you and your family can spend your summers rather than spending money on expensive vacations every year.  The idea is to transform your backyard to accommodate the needs of your family.  This typically includes a place for relaxation, a place for entertaining, and a place for recreation.  At this point you may be wondering where to start.

I would recommend going about this as if you were packing up a truck for a big move.  Start with the larger items and then move to the smaller items.  This way you know exactly how much room you have to work with after the big things.

A common item that people often get is an in ground swimming pool.  As I have stated in many of my posts, I recommend going with a vinyl liner pool.  For more information on vinyl liner in ground pools check out my other posts.  To save time and space in this post I am not going to get into the reasons why today.  I think that an in ground pool represents the biggest part of the staycation project.  It will likely take up the most space in the backyard, and will likely be one of the higher end costs in the project.  I have also written about the best way to go about deciding on the style and size of the pool in another post.  If a backyard staycation is something that you are seriously considering  I think that it would benefit you to read through my blog as it contains a lot of information on in ground pools in general as well as vinyl liner pools specifically.  An in ground pool will act as a place for recreation for you and your family and friends.  Next I will tackle a place for relaxation.

This can be incorporated into the design of the pool, or you can have it designed to be separate from the pool.  Basically you will want a patio area for sitting and relaxing.  I have noticed a lot of people will incorporate an outdoor kitchen, or a large grill in their patio area.  It all depends on your personal preferences.  In theory you can have all of these components connected to each other or you can separate them almost as if they were different rooms in your backyard.  This will all depend on the space available and how much you are willing to put into it.  Personally I think that I would prefer each area to be somewhat isolated from one another.  I would do this through the landscape design.
Ideally I would have my relaxation area separate from the pool area, and the entertaining area separate from the relaxation area.

Lastly we come to the entertaining area.  Will this be another patio area with a fire place, or would you prefer a grassy area?  It is all up to you on how you want to entertain.  I have seen a lot of examples in which there are multiple levels of patio that represent the different areas.  Typically the pool area will be at the lowest level.  I find that Pintrest is a very good place to get ideas for your backyard staycation.  For the purposes of giving my readers a good place to start I want to give you my ideas on the way I would go about a backyard staycation at my own house.

The Pool (Copied and Pasted from my post title “My Ideal Swimming Pool”)

The design:

Free Form Style Pool

This part is really up to personal taste and backyard space.  My back yard is big enough to accommodate any size pool really so for me it comes down to the style.  I am partial to the free form pool.  I tend to be drawn to the curves and organic layout rather than the basic geometric rectangle pool.  I am not one to be too flashy so I would probably go with a smaller pool probably along the lines of something that would fit into a 16’x32′ space.  There are endless possibilities in regard to the shape so for that I would want to sit down and draw it out.  Did I mention that I am married, so naturally that would affect the design.  In the end we would come up with something that we are both happy with, but as long as she is happy I am cool with it.  Anyway that is a general look into the design I would choose.

The Deck:

Beautiful Decking

I have seen all sorts of decking options for vinyl liner in ground pools.  A lot of people choose to use pavers around their pool.  For me this wouldn’t work well.  I am more of a concrete type guy, however there are some things that I would do to give the pool more of a high end look.  To begin I would start with a 1′ stamped border all the way around the pool.  The color of the concrete would have to be chosen with my wife of course.  Then I would utilize a slightly different color to give the pool some contrast, and again my wife would help with this.  I have also seen a lot of pools that have some grass around them, and I really like the look of that so perhaps I would try to include it in my pool as well.  Again keeping with the organic look of the pool, the deck would also have to be free form with plenty of curves.  I am not a big fan of the “cookie cutter” type pools where your pool looks strikingly similar to your neighbors.  I like to have some aspect of originality without going over the top with it.

The Patio

Japanese style garden

This portion of my backyard staycation would preferably be at a different physical level than the pool itself, and I would use it as a place for relaxation.  I am a big fan of having this area somewhat isolated from the pool area through the use of landscaping.  Take a look at the photo to the left.  Notice how they used some evergreens to separate the patio area from the rest of the yard.  I also like the way that they used paving stones as the patio rather than going with standard concrete.

I happen to find traditional Japanese rock gardens to be very aesthetically pleasing so I would likely incorporate that type of design into my patio area.  The photo to the right displays some traditional Japanese garden ideas complete with a koi pond, and Bonsai.  This would be ideal for me because I have been working on a Japanese maple for a couple of years that would look amazing in this type of setting.  I find koi ponds to be very relaxing and for me this would be a must have.

Entertaining Area

I would prefer this area to again be separate from the other areas, and preferably on yet another level.  This is where I would have my outdoor kitchen and fireplace.  I would again have a patio area with plenty of seating.  As far as isolation goes, I think that I would prefer this area to overlook the pool, that way if anyone were swimming I would be able to supervise without having to look around anything.   The photo to the left is a very nice representation of an outdoor fire place.  However I would choose a different color brick to use.  The idea is to have these three components separate from one another, and yet tie them all together through color and style.  Obviously if you were to have three areas within the same backyard that all looked completely different you may lose some of the continuity.

Another way to go would be to just have a fire pit with some seating around it.  The photo on the right will give you a good idea of how nice a fire pit can look if done properly.  Although the fire pit looks really nice I think that I would still opt for the Fire place.

Next I think that I would want an outdoor kitchen.  This is a place that would have a grill, sink, refrigerator, and counter space.  It would serve as a place to prepare food and drinks for your family and friends.  These come in many different styles so choosing one that suites your needs and tastes would not be too difficult.

These are just my personal tastes and what I would want in my own backyard.  The next step would be to come up with a design that would incorporate all of these components and look really nice.  From there you would want to come up with a design for your landscaping.  One way to do this would be to hire someone.  Many landscaping companies have the know how to do something like this.  The other option would be to design it yourself.  For that I would definitely recommend searching around on the internet.  I know that you can find a lot of examples simply be googling it.  Another website that I find to be very helpful is Pintrest.  There you can collect many different examples and store them on the site itself.  Another site that is quickly growing in popularity is Houzz.  This site allows you to browse through projects that have been done and create a project book where you can keep all the information you want for your own project.

For more information on in ground swimming pools and vinyl liner pool specifically check out my other blog posts.  You can also find more information on these types of backyard projects in my blog, and ways to go about getting started.  As always if anyone has any comments or questions please feel free to share.