Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Top 10 Outdoor Living Trends

Every year the American Society of Landscape Architects surveys residential landscape professionals to rank the relative popularity of a wide variety of design features to be included in outdoor living spaces. This year, lighting, firepits, and areas for sitting and dining were expected to be the most sought-after enhancements for outdoor spaces.

Check out the list below to find out what else topped the list for 2011, and get ideas for your backyard for 2012.

Kichler Outdoor Landscape Lighting

Outdoor lighting (rated as popular for 2011 by 96.2% of the respondents) allows you to enjoy your backyard both day and night and creates an inviting atmosphere.

Landscape lights along pathways and walkways make it easy for you and your guest to reach sitting areas safely.

Outdoor lighting fixtures provide ambiance and adequate lighting for entertaining on your patio or deck at night.

Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting

Fire pits/Fireplaces (94.2%)
Lexington Firepit from Brookstone

Outdoor firepits and fireplaces create the perfect nighttime gathering spot to relax, eat and drink, and share stories. They also let you enjoy your outdoor living space throughout fall and early winter.

Portable firepits come in a range of styles and materials, including wrought-iron, stainless steel, and copper to match any backyard.

Built-in firepits and fireplaces can be finished in stone or brick and add a custom look to your outdoor space.

      Photo courtesy of Brookstone

      Seating/Dining Areas (94.1%)
      Pride Family Brands Electra Cushioned Outdoor Dining Set

      Having various places for people to sit and socialize extends your living space to the outdoors.

      Outdoor dining options range from small Bistro sets for two people to large patio dining tables that seat up to 12.

      A simple wooden bench offers the perfect place to catch up with an old friend.

      Cushioned chairs and a few side tables encourage group conversation.

          Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

          Grills (93.8%)
          Performer Grill by Weber

          The grill is a backyard staple. There’s nothing like a summer barbecue with family and friends.

          From freestanding carts to complete grilling islands, there’s a grill to fit every lifestyle and budget.

          Fuel options include propane, natural gas, electric, and charcoal.

              2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Used with Permission.

              Installed seating (89.5%)
              Master Pools Builder Gib-San Pools

              You can never have enough places to sit when entertaining outdoors.

              Incorporating retaining walls, ledges, benches, and steps in your backyard design adds both style and function.

                  Photo courtesy of Master Pools Builder: Gib-San Pools, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

                  Weatherized Outdoor Furniture (83.6%)
                  Palm Springs Rattan Kokomo Sectional

                  The latest outdoor furniture designs bring the comfort of your indoor living room to your backyard patio.

                  Durable materials, including wood, wicker, aluminum, wrought-iron, and plastic, ensure your outdoor furniture lasts for years.

                  Weatherproof fabrics add color and comfort.

                      Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Rattan & Garden Classics.
                      Photography by Chris Baber.

                      Space for Cooking & Entertaining
                      Weber Black Grill Station

                      Just like your indoor kitchen, having ample counter space (74.2%) and utility storage (61.3%) makes entertaining so much easier.

                      Stow cooking gear in cabinets and add a few bar stools around a counter top so that you can prep food and spend time with your guests.

                          2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
                          Used with Permission.

                          Outdoor Entertainment
                          SunBrite Weatherproof Outdoor TV

                          With an outdoor stereo system (58.3%), wireless internet connection (46.35), and weatherproof TV (45.4%), no one will be thinking of going back indoors.

                              Photo courtesy of SunBriteTV.

                              Kitchen Conveniences
                              Photo courtesy of Cimarron Circle Construction Co.; Outdoor Kitchen Designed by Prideux Design; Photography by Balfour Walker

                              Having everything, including the kitchen sink (54.7%), eliminates the hassle of running in and out of the house.

                              Plus, an outdoor refrigerator (50.2%) not only keeps drinks cold but ensures proper handling of food.

                                  Aquatech, a National Society of Pool-Building & Retailing Professionals;
                                   Photo courtesy of Cimarron Circle Construction Co.; Designed by Prideux Design; Photography by Balfour Walker.

                                  Outdoor Heaters (44.4%)

                                  Outdoor Pergola Foegley Landscape, Inc.

                                  Outdoor heaters keep your patio or deck warm and toasty long after the summer has ended.

                                  Table top heaters take up minimal space and can be moved from one area to another. Freestanding units provide heat to large areas.

Watkins Manufacturing Acquires American Hydrotherapy Systems

Watkins Manufacturing, a leading maker of hot tubs worldwide, announces the acquisition of the assets of American Hydrotherapy Systems (AHS), manufacturer of Freeflow Spas® and a leader in the rotationally molded spa and business category. With the purchase of Ontario, California-based AHS, Watkins adds roto-molded Freeflow Spas to its portfolio of premium Watkins spa brands, which include Caldera® Spas and Hot Spring® Spas.

“The addition of Freeflow Spas to our family of quality hot tub brands fits perfectly with our consumer strategy to deliver the right products to the right markets at the right prices,” says Steve Hammock, President of Watkins Manufacturing. “We want our Watkins-brand retailers, whenever possible, to be a one-stop-shop in fulfilling the hot water relaxation needs of today’s discriminating consumer. Integrating this quality selection of Freeflow Spas products into our retail offering will allow shoppers to get the hot tub they want from us, whether they choose an entry level model or the most premium spa.”

“Our business was not ‘overtly for sale’ but Watkins presented us with an interesting opportunity we simply had to consider,” explains Bob Gawlik, general manager, American Hydrotherapy Systems. “Over the years, many other companies have approached us. But Watkins, an icon in our industry, was the first suitor that we believed would perpetuate what we have worked so hard to build in a manner we think will honor the company’s values.”

“Over the years, we’ve been very impressed with the product offering developed by, and the integrity of, the AHS team,” says Hammock. Over the next several quarters, the AHS business will transition to Watkins worldwide headquarters in Vista, California. “Watkins celebrated the manufacture of our one-millionth hot tub in September 2011, and together with this strategic acquisition of AHS we believe we are positioned for continued growth in the future,” adds Hammock.

About Watkins Manufacturing Corporation

Watkins Manufacturing was established in 1977, in Vista, California. The company is a leading manufacturer of hot tubs worldwide, including Hot Spring® Spas, Limelight® Hot Tubs, Hot Spot® Spas and Caldera® Spas. The Watkins Dealer network extends into all 50 states and over 60 countries. Watkins is a division of Masco Corporation, a Fortune 500 company whose products include Delta® Faucets, KraftMaid® Cabinets, and Behr® paint.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Pool, Spa & Backyard Lovers

Wave Hammock by Outback Chair Company

The holidays are right around the corner and if you’re like most people, you probably have a few friends or family members left to buy presents for. To help ease the stress of last-minute holiday shopping, we’ve put together this holiday gift guide full of great gift ideas for the pool, spa, and backyard lover on your list.

Photo courtesy of Outback Company

Gifts for Hot Tub Lovers

Spazazz RX Therapy Spa Scents

    • Spa Fragrances – Enhance their hot tub experience with an aromatherapy gift basket filled with an assortment of liquid or crystal spa fragrances such as calming Lavender, refreshing Eucalyptus, and soothing Chamomile.

Photo courtesy of Spazazz Global LLC

Brookstone Towel Warmer

    • Towel Warmer – Any hot tub user will be thankful for the cozy embrace of a warm towel when stepping out of the hot tub on chilly nights or during the winter months. They can also use it to heat mittens, hats, and blankets.

Photo courtesy of Brookstone

Gifts for Pool Lovers

AquaFit Pro Bells from AquaJogger

    • Aquatic Fitness Equipment – A pair of water dumbbells lets fitness fanatics get a great workout right in their pool.

    Photo courtesy of AquaJogger®

        Audio Unlimited Pool Pod by Cables Unlimited

          • Floating Pool Speakers – Swimmers will have a rockin’ good time listening to their favorite tunes while lounging in the pool or relaxing in a hot tub. These waterproof wireless speakers use a base station to transmit tunes from an iPod, iPhone, MP3 player, or other audio source right to the pool.

        Photo courtesy of Audio Unlimited by Cables Unlimited.
        Photography by Brian Esterlin.

          • Pool Party Gift Basket – Beach towels, sunblock, flip-flops, and pool floats—a pool owner can never have enough of these items on hand when entertaining family and friends. Put together a gift basket filled with these items, plus a few bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a beach ball, and a gift card for the local pizza or sub shop for a thoughtful gift they’ll surely appreciate.

Gifts for Backyard Lovers

Hatteras All-Weather Wicker Roman Arch Hammock

    • Hammock – This present is sure to please. According to the Journal of The American Medical Association, woven cotton and nylon hammocks provide excellent back support and are an excellent tool for relieving stress. (You may want to keep this one for yourself!)
Photo courtesy of Hatteras Hammocks/The Hammock Source

Lexington Firepit from Brookstone

    • Firepit - An outdoor firepit is an excellent purchase for outdoor entertainers. It gives them a great spot to relax and gather with family and friends and can also extend their outdoor living season.

Photo courtesy of Brookstone

Vienna Wind Chime by Gooserocksdesigns.com

    • Wind Chimes – With a range of musical tones and eye-catching designs to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the perfect wind chime for that special someone on your holiday gift list. You can even get them engraved for a truly unique and personalized gift.

Photo courtesy of gooserocksdesigns.com.
Photo by Heath Paley.

Wireless iPod MP3 player_Eton

    • Wireless Sound System –  A wireless unit makes it easy for music lovers to enjoy their favorite tunes while lounging by the pool or entertaining friends. Though not weatherproof, these sound systems typically include a plastic covering to protect your iPod or MP3 player while in use.

Photo courtesy of OSD Audio, Stereostone, Inc and Etón Corporation

Outdoor Holiday & Winter Decor Ideas

Festive Ways to Decorate Your Yard for the Holidays

Deborah Silver & Co.

Take your backyard winter landscape from drab to fab by adding festive touches that celebrate the winter holiday season.

We’ve put together some easy and creative ideas for decorating your backyard with seasonal flair—after all, you can still enjoy the view of your backyard in the winter.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Silver & Co.|Detroit Garden Works

Trim Trees and Shrubs

Deborah Silver & Co. String white or colored lights around trees and shrubs to add a bit of glitz and glamour or create a warm glow by placing white, green, red, or winter blue spotlights under bushes.

Add Old-World charm by hanging battery- or solar-powered lanterns on tree branches at varying heights.

Decorate trees with plastic/outdoor ornaments or place holiday-hued gazing globes at the foot of trees for color and sparkle.

Tie bows of red ribbon around tree trunks and branches or wrap ribbon around box-shaped bushes to make them look like presents.

Attract birds by creating bird seed ornaments:

    1. Gather pine cones that are fairly open and tie a string or thin ribbon around the base of each pine cone.
    2. Spread peanut butter inside the pine cones and around the edges.
    3. Roll pine cone around on a plate of birdseed until the peanut butter is covered with seeds.
    4. Use the string to the attach the pine cones to tree branches.

      Deck the Patio & Fence
      Foegley Landscape, Inc.
      Drape garland made out of hardy evergreens like cedar, cypress, and euonymus over patio doors and deck/fence posts. Add berries, pine cones, and twigs for texture and color.

      Outline the perimeter of your patio or fence with festive pathway markers such as snowflakes, candy canes, stars, or giant Christmas bulbs.

      Photo courtesy of Foegley Landscape, Inc.

      Deborah Silver & Co. Make outdoor furniture part of your display by arranging string lights or garland over the backs of chairs and down the center of the table.

      Brighten a barren patio with colorful winter containers. Use boughs of evergreens (such as red or yellowtwig dogwood, pine, and fir), poinsettias, winterberry holly, reindeer moss, fruit, hydrangea blooms, and dried eucalyptus. And of course don’t forget to add twinkle lights!<

                Adorn Outdoor Structures

                Foegley Landscape, Inc. Wrap the poles and beams of an arbor, pergola, or gazebo with twinkling lights to create a dazzling winter wonderland once the snow arrives.

                Hang glittery snowflake decorations (sold at craft stores) or large Christmas balls from pergola beams or gazebo railings at varying lengths for interest and ambiance.
                Add holiday spirit to an outdoor shed or pool house by hanging a wreath or swag on the door, filling window boxes with boughs of evergreens, pinecones, and berries, and adding lights to the roof. You can even add a wooden sign by the door that says “Santa’s Workshop.”

                Turn your gazebo into a gift-giving showpiece by placing a decorated Christmas tree in the center.

                Bring the indoors out by placing a wreath above an outdoor fireplace or hanging stockings made of outdoor fabric from the mantel.
                Photo courtesy of Foegley Landscape, Inc.

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