Pools and hot tubs are excellent relaxation tools. ATTRIBUTION: Kolin Toney (Flickr)

Make your backyard an extension of your home by adding desirable features such as cooking and entertainment spaces. With proper design, planning and construction, your backyard living area can become a place the whole family can enjoy. While taking safety, maintenance, functionality, and budget into consideration, consider what backyard indulgences are right for you.

Swimming Pool

Pools are an excellent addition to any backyard space, especially if you live in a warm climate. They can also add value and beauty to your home. However, the initial cost of an in-ground concrete swimming pool can be $30,000 or more, including the cost of equipment and installation. Pools require regular maintenance to minimize the growth of bacteria and to properly control calcium, alkalinity, and pH levels.

Hot Tub

Hot tubs and spas can be both functional and decorative. Whether above or in-ground, a hot tub can offer a place to relax without the expense and large size of a swimming pool. The average cost of a hot tub, including installation, is between $3,500 and $8,000. But remember that hot tubs can’t be placed just anywhere: Most require the installation of a gravel patio, cement slab, or custom-designed gazebo.

Putting Green

If you’re a golfer at heart, you may love the idea of building your own putting green in your backyard. Putting greens are better suited for flatter landscapes that offer plenty of open space for playing. This project can be hired out or completed yourself with a few materials, such as synthetic grass and equipment used to manipulate the soil. When synthetic grass is used instead of real grass, maintenance is kept minimal long-term.

Mini Beach

Create your own backyard beach paradise and avoid the crowded beaches. This can be achieved in a number of ways. For example, sand can be poured around the perimeter of a swimming pool for a beach-like feel. Sand can also be poured in a space with walls around the outside to keep the sand in. Add fun features like a fire pit or hammock to make the space more enjoyable. Kids will enjoy playing with sand pails and shovels.

Grilling Station

No outside living space is complete without a grilling station. Outdoor grilling stations are not just limited to your basic barbecue grill for cooking hot dogs and hamburgers: You can create an entire outside kitchen, including brick ovens for cooking pizzas, refrigeration units to hold chilled drinks, and smokers for extended outdoor cooking of slabs of meat.


If you prefer the tranquility of flowing water, consider incorporating a fountain into your backyard space. Fountains can range from low-key bubblers to eye-catching pieces that spray water into the air. Water fountains are an excellent addition to backyard gardens or existing ponds. Add comfy seating around the fountain to create the perfect ambiance for reading or relaxing. Add underwater lighting to your fountain so that you can enjoy it day and night.