What do you daydream about your favorite vacation spot? Does it include lounging by the water’s edge with an ice cold drink in your hand? Or perhaps cozying around a campfire while roasting marshmallows? Is it a large, active family affair or a quiet, romantic getaway? 

Although Caribbean sand might not be the best fit for your backyard paradise, the soothing sounds of a water feature might. And fire pits remain some of the hottest outdoor living additions around. Discov¬ering the best ways to create an atmosphere that takes you away from the daily grind to appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors, all with the convenience and availability of your own backyard, has become more im¬portant than ever—and today’s array of op¬tions are nearly limitless. 

Room With A View 

Designscapes Colorado recently created a stunning design for a large property with an idyllic, babbling creek running through it. Using a strategy of creating distinct out¬door rooms, each with its own charming character, this project design demonstrates a wealth of outdoor opportunities. 

“Landscape construction is a way to con¬vey taste and style. Whether your garden is classic in design or you take an innovative approach, your landscape is not something you buy, you have to create it,” believes Phil Steinhauer, President of Designscapes Colorado. 

Nearest the home you’ll find the first of several inviting sitting areas, a grand custom-designed natural stone fireplace and firepit, and a series of winding stone paths and steps—all amidst lush landscap¬ing overlooking its enchanting creek. 

A classic wood bridge takes you across the creek to a trout pond perfect for swing¬ing into, fishing and swimming. Another outdoor room incorporates vegetable gar¬dens, a barn and even chickens. There’s also another large area they refer to as the active playroom featuring a volleyball court and a large, flat lawn area for outdoor games. Gorgeous, sustainable native plants, flowers and trees beautifully tie this outdoor dream all together. 

“Although this property has the benefit of size, the same design principles apply to projects of all sizes and budgets. Just as when you are looking at new house, the overall flow is so much more important than total square footage,” explains Steinhauer.

Are We There Yet? 

Creating a unique space that truly re¬flects your outdoor personality and vision is no easy task. Dave Graham, owner of Phase One Landscapes, explains, “After we establish which design elements are most important for our client, we focus on function and usability of space for their lifestyle.” 

“Often the garden reflects the architec¬tural style of the client’s home, as well as its interior design,” said Graham. One of their recent projects includes an incredible sculp¬ture garden blending elegantly with the home’s exterior stone features. A stunning, hand-carved, black granite water feature gives the area a distinct contemporary feel. The movement of water over alternating rough and polished facets of the fountain’s rock brings an alluring energy and life to the garden. 

This project also features an engaging pond complete with fish, waterfalls, bear and bird sculptures, as well as bubblers that further enhance the water’s charm. 

One overall trend includes extending outdoor living options for as long as possi-ble. “We’ve definitely seen our clients place significant importance onto outdoor light¬ing and fire elements,” said Graham. “The warmth and convenience of gas fire pits and the new efficient LED outdoor lighting systems not only extend our outdoor living into the evenings, but into the cooler seasons.” Increased lighting options also provide more ways to light pathways, walls and other hardscape features that further define and personalize outdoor spaces.

Paving Paradise 

Hardscapes can make a huge difference when it comes to developing a functional and long-lasting landscape. Some serve to decrease erosion in areas of slope or uneven soil, and can reduce the amount of water needed to maintain your yard. 

Especially since experiencing poor drainage after last year’s flood, Matt Otero, owner of Designs by Stonescapes found many clients interested in the benefits of permeable interlocking pavers. His company specializes in this eco-friendly hardscaping product designed to absorb five times its area in water, then slowly recirculate it back to its intended drain. 

Bringing an appealing Old World, stone cobble road feel, they are often used to create gorgeous walkways and driveways. 

Because of their exceptional density (13,000 PSI verses concrete’s 4,000 PSI), these permeable pavers are basically indestructible and come with a manufacturer backed lifetime warranty. “Their natural ability to weather freeze-thaw cycles makes them ideal for the Colorado climate,” said Otero. 

Another exciting option promising hours of family fun is its splash pad application—complete with a super-charged jet system that shoots streams of water into the air. Specialty lighting adds to the thrill. Otero explains, “It only requires a small footprint, is practically maintenance-free and way less expensive than a pool.” 

Imagine a water park meets a mini Bellagio right in your own backyard.

Think Outside. No Box Required 

Stepping out onto a new or updated deck not only feels like entering a whole new world right outside your door, it can dramatically increase your home’s total living space and provide needed framework for many other outdoor treasures. 

“Understanding your views, those you want to keep open as well as those you may want to cover, is an important step in deck planning,” explains Joe Apice of Colorado Deck and Landscaping. 

Adding an area of denser shrubs or small trees at one end of your deck is one way to achieve privacy, whereas the right railings and built-in seating can make the most of your favorite sights. “Outdoor kitchens, grills and hot tubs are still in high demand for decks, along with the beauty and function¬ality of modern pergolas,” said Apice. 

Not just for shade anymore, a pergola can provide the perfect structure to hang lighting, TVs and speakers as the popularity of outdoor media rooms and backyard theatres continues to grow. 

Though the range of outdoor living possibilities seems endless, our bud¬gets are often not. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely forgo the dream—it’s all about proper planning. “Sometimes clients decide that the first year will involve the initial investment of a deck and outdoor kitchen, but delay other projects. It’s so important to create designs that allow for additions such as where the future hot tub, water feature or fire pit will be placed,” explains Apice. 


Boise Cascade & Trex Transcend decking

Designscapes Colorado

Designs by Stonescapes

Phase One Landscapes

Colorado Deck and Landscaping.com