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Not Your Parents’ Backyard: These Hot Trends Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Fire features add the ultimate dramatic touch to outdoor living spaces. One of the latest trends is the gas fire table with elegant linear flame insert. They’re not only mesmerizing; the also add warmth on cool evenings.

Some like it hot
Since the beginning of time, fire and water have held a life-affirming fascination for people, so it’s not surprising fire features are one of the biggest backyard trends. Leading the charge are fire tables, which range from a simple campfire to
a sleek coffee table with removable cover that reveals an elegant linear flame rising through a bed of glass pebbles. Some fire features help provide warmth for an intimate lounge area while others set the mood across a larger area. This might include a series of fire bowls or linear flames set on elevated pillars or walls with sheer descent waterfalls spilling below. When the pool lights are turned down this can create a dramatic tapestry with dancing flames reflecting off the water and surrounding landscape features. Outdoor fireplaces are also very popular. Some are standalone structures in stone while others are built into cabanas or feature walls. Gas fireplaces are the most popular, not just because of lower construction costs, but also for ease of use and the selection of modern inserts available.

Low maintenance yards
As time becomes increasingly precious, people are looking for ways to spend more time enjoying their backyard and less time maintaining it. A greater proportion of yard space is now being devoted to patios and decks. Lawns are often converted into artificial turf that doesn’t require mowing, fertilizing, or watering. Low-maintenance grasses and evergreens, along with borders of decorative stone or river rock, further reduce yardwork. Irrigation systems help eliminate watering chores. High-quality sealers cut down on the upkeep of fences and decks and automated pool cleaners and sanitation systems help minimize pool chores. The best thing about the new lifestyle backyards is the significant amount of additional time available to enjoy them.

This photo shows several hot trends; modern design, water features, and LED lighting. Just some of the reasons you’ll want to spend more time outdoors.

LED lighting
The advent of affordable LED lighting has brought wonderful changes to backyard landscaping. Not only do LEDs consume a fraction of the energy and last thousands of hours longer than conventional bulbs, they allow for much more precise lighting of specific features. In the past, pools traditionally had one powerful light in the deep end. The light would fade off as it reached the shallow end, resulting in very uneven lighting. Now the fixtures are much smaller and you can install several of them at specific locations to light the pool perfectly. Being so small, they can be installed in the nooks and coves of water features to create the specific effect wanted. Colour-changing LEDs extend your creative options and allow for set colours or a rainbow of continuously changing colour. They are used to dramatically light sheer descent waterfalls or in laminar jets to create a narrow beam of light that shoots out of the deck and into the pool. LED lights can be used in pools, spas, and water features or throughout the entire backyard to provide creative lighting for patios, walkways, steps, landscape features, and all manner of structures. The possibilities are endless!

Automatic covers
One of the very high-end luxury trends is automatic pool covers. They enhance safety when your pool is not in use and help reduce heat loss, especially at night. They also help keep the pool clean and cut down on chemical use. Auto covers are quite expensive, but really prove their worth in spring and fall. There are some things around a pool that are hard to automate, so they do require a little caretaking. Before retracting the cover you should remove any leaves and debris, and after it rains you’ll need to pump off any standing water using the special cover pump. When not in use, the cover is stored out of view, retracting into a bunker below the deck. Although auto covers incorporate the finest components and materials, they do require occasional maintenance, usually to adjust the cables that keep them properly aligned during roll out and retraction. Auto covers can change the way you think about your pool by adding safety, comfort, and peace of mind. They are the ultimate accessory for the discerning pool owner.

And that’s not all
There are even more trends to including glass panel railings and gates, sports courts, outdoor games tables, outdoor showers, exotic natural woods and stone, engineered wood, high-tech composites. Indeed, there’s a multitude of innovative new trends emerging in pool products and backyard design. Today’s backyards don’t look anything like your parents’ backyard did.

Marc Luff is a senior sales manager with Betz Pools and for the past
27 years has used his extensive experience and knowledge to help create a wide range of lifestyle backyards for hundreds of Betz customers. Luff specializes in turnkey projects that include a pool, spa, full landscaping and the myriad of special features that make lifestyle backyards unique. He can be reached via e-mail at

Dave Clark is an independent communications consultant and writer with Soulutions Inc., and has handled the marketing communications for Betz Pools for the past 33 years. He can be reached at

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