Backyard Living


There's More To It than Planting Flowers

Landscaping is about more than just planting a few flowers and bushes around your pool. It's about planning and creating a pool environment that’s easy to get to — and hard to leave. Your first step is to get inspired. It can be a movie, a native flower or a planter you just couldn’t resist. You can also find inspiration from different gardening styles. Just find ideas you love and build from there.

backyard pool with trees

Next, design your deck and plan your walkways. After the pool itself, your deck is the foundation for your landscape design. Walkways are important, too — you want to make access to your pool area easy so your plants don’t get trampled.

Now it’s time to start planting! You’ll want to choose plants that will flourish in your geographic area, so check with your local nurseries before you buy. You can also enlist the help of a professional landscape designer. Either way, it helps to know the lingo and the common pitfalls to avoid.

A great way to accent those plants is with edging. This keeps plants and grass from overflowing onto paths and driveways. This can be done with a variety of materials from concrete to plastic.

backyard pool with pergola

You may also need to add mulch or topsoil to your backyard pool area. Not sure how much you need? Check out our mulch/topsoil calculator to figure out the exact amount.

An irrigation system can help keep your pool area looking its best. You want to balance water conservation while providing enough water for your area to flourish. There are different irrigation systems available depending on your needs.

With the right information, inspired ideas and, perhaps, a fabulous landscape designer, you’re on your way to creating a lush and beautiful environment that adds depth and color to your back yard — and more enjoyment to your pool. Love your view as much as you love your pool! For even more inspired landscaping tips and backyard ideas, visit

patio and decking
Patio and Decking

What are you looking for in your poolside landscape? Depending on your choice of coping and deck materials, you can create a seamless extension of your home’s exterior — or a departure into something stunning and exotic, just steps away from your back door.

If you build an inground pool, you’ll need to add pool coping — the edge or cap you see around the outside perimeter of the pool. Coping is usually made from brick or stone, and has a smoother, rounded or “bullnose” finished edge for comfort and style. You can choose coping that blends in with your decking, or you can opt to accent it. Whichever way you go, you want to make sure that your decking and coping — even your pool tile — are selected to create a cohesive, complementary look.

backyard pool deck

Patios and decks are extensions of the home and can help create the perfect setting for your backyard. As such, patio and deck design requires accessories that will make your backyard as livable as any indoor room. From a fountain or hammock to wicker furniture and wind chimes, a few added accessories can transform your backyard into your new outdoor living space.  In addition, your deck can also help add sophistication to any backyard.

  • Wood, tile, concrete, stone, pavers and composite materials are all commonly used for decks.
  • Decks can have one or many levels and can be bold or unassuming, depending on your preferred design.
  • Consider your own personal space requirements and preferences when selecting a deck surface.

The materials you choose should fit into your lifestyle and budget. Your deck should be strategically placed to enjoy the scenery while minimizing noise both to and from your neighbors.

Your deck gives you even more opportunities to design an inviting environment. Whether you’re building an above ground or inground pool, you can create a simple and beautiful space for lounging, or a multi-level, outdoor living area for entertaining. Decking materials come in an exciting array of beautiful textures, designs and styles — wood, tile, concrete, stone, pavers and composite materials are some of the most common. Consider these ideas:

pool paver decking

Deck Pavers

Deck pavers are durable, affordable and comfortable to walk on, and can be found in materials to fit any budget — travertine, concrete, natural stone and manufactured aggregates.  Pavers can be sand-set without mortar, grout or an expensive slab, plus, sand installation allows for flexibility between the pavers so they’re less likely to crack and need repairs in the future.

decorative concrete decking

Decorative Concrete

Decorative Concrete is another option that offers a wide variety of colors and finishes.  Concrete decking can be stamped and stained in your choice of patterns, textures and colors, and can be sealed with a spray-on, slip-resistant finish.

pool and spa on red deck

Composite Decking

Composite Decking can give you the look and practicality of a traditional wood deck without all the maintenance that comes with it. Composite decking is available in colors and textures that mimic the look of real wood, yet it’s durable, long-lasting and needs no painting or staining.

travertine tile


Tile adds classic beauty and is available in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and colors — it’s also very durable.


Slate and aggregates provide wonderful texture and rich color and is a beautiful complement to your natural surroundings.


Brick is durable, available in a variety of colors, and can be laid out in a number of exciting and dramatic patterns.

fireplaces and fire pits
Fireplaces and Fire Pits

In many areas, backyards can be enjoyed throughout the year. A great way to keep the activities going is through the addition of a fire feature.

A fire feature is one of the most popular outdoor additions to a pool area. Gas fireplaces and fire pits can be wood burning or – like grills – they can burn natural gas or liquid propane which can require the coordination of several key elements – masonry, gas and plumbing, and stonework.

But whichever you choose, fire features provide beautiful, aesthetic places to gather along with warmth for those chilly nights!

outdoor grill fireplace


A fireplace can be a beautiful focal feature added to the pool area – designed to complement both the pool and the home’s design. Located on the edge of the pool or patio, they provide lighting in addition to warmth. Fireplaces can be pre-fabricated or can be custom-built and constructed from a variety of materials to blend into your landscape.

A fireplace is the best way to make a statement in any backyard landscaping or pool project. This focal feature can take on the design and feel of the house, backyard, or patio. A fireplace functions as more of a focal feature during the day but as the night cools off, it becomes the center of the party!

fire pit

Fire Pit 

A fire pit is one of the most common fire features and has practically become a standard backyard installation. Fire pits can range from 3’ wide to as much as 6’ or greater. Many pre-fabricated fire pits are available or they can easily be custom-built to the owner’s or designer’s specifications. A fire pit can be wood burning or setup for natural gas or propane. A wood fire pit can be a great addition but requires cleanup, so, many homeowners prefer a quick and easy gas setup. Fire pits have become popular because of their ability to be the center of an evening of fun, with everyone gathered around it.

Fire Bowl at Night

Other Fire Features

Other interesting fire features can include bar and table fire pits. “Ready-to-finish” fire features are a fast, easy, and efficient way to build custom fire features. Assembly of these fire features can be easy and sometimes with no serious carpentry or masonry skills needed. 

Combine elements by adding fire/water pits or fire lines to your swimming pool area. Customize anything from the size, shape, finish, and fire rock to your outdoor design. 

Fire Wall

Fire Walls

One of the newest trends in pool fire features are fire walls. Most of these walls have flames coming from the top and illuminating the night sky. These walls can also be equipped with water features. These fire water fountains combine the calming sounds of water with the brilliance of fire. 

With the addition of a fire feature, cool weather doesn’t have to bring a halt to your backyard fun!

furnishing your pool area
Furnishing Your Pool Area

When the weather warms up, our backyard becomes our refuge. There’s no better place to relax than a well-furnished patio or pool deck. Many people want larger, complete furniture sets to give their outdoor area a finished look rather than single pieces. Typically, they want to outfit their backyards as they would their living rooms – complete with chaise loungers, end tables, etc.

pool lounger

Pool area furnishings can be made of any materials, but cypress and cedar are popular choices. Both cypress and cedar are durable to the elements as well as provide an attractive, matchable color that looks good for a number of years.

pool umbrella

Create Shade

To provide shade to the area, umbrellas and awnings are great options. Most patio umbrellas range in size from a standard 7.5 feet to custom-made models that span up to 13 feet in diameter. Awnings can cover a wide gamut: small enough to shade a bathroom window or large enough to cover the entire rear of a home. With this in mind, also consider factors such as fabric, UV protection, durability, size and price in your buying decision. Pay as much attention to the care of your purchase as you would to the quality of your purchase. Manufacturers do what technology and cost permit to make products carefree, but they still will need proper care, like storage in bad weather or an occasional cleaning. Traditional warranties on umbrellas are one year; awning warranties are generally longer, depending on the type that you buy.

outdoor patio fireplace

Bring the Indoors Out

To add a fresh look to your backyard or poolscape don't worry about tackling the entire outdoor space or spending big bucks. You can make a major impact with just a few changes! These days pretty much everything indoors has worked its way outdoors, and that does mean everything, including lamps, rugs, wall hangings, cushions, draperies and throws.

Woven designs, colored fabrics and innovative textures have been technologically developed and improved through the years. They are extremely durable, weather-resistant and functional, and now come in enough style choices to complement any existing décor.

Lighting can also completely change the look of an area. In addition to traditional lamp styles, attractive lanterns, path lighting, uplights, downlights and appropriately placed spotlights illuminate the way to an updated area.

outdoor kitchens
Outdoor Kitchens

For the family that loves to entertain, outdoor kitchens by the pool are a great option. An outdoor kitchen makes entertaining for large groups much easier, as all food and food prep items are in one place. An outdoor kitchen usually has a grill, a small refrigerator, a sink, seating and tables.

Outdoor Grill Party

The outdoor kitchen keeps trips in and out to a minimum, thereby reducing bugs in the house (especially in mosquito season) and reducing the chance of spillage on carpets and other flooring that may be difficult to clean. Outdoor kitchens are usually used during the warm months, but if the outdoor kitchen is in a large sunroom, it can also be used during cold months. Some people enjoy the cooler fall air, and tend to entertain more during the fall. It lends to an enjoyable day outside instead of spending all day cooking inside. The outdoor kitchen also affords the host the opportunity to mingle with her guests as she prepares the meal.

There are many types of outdoor kitchens, from a simple grill and countertop setup to a more elaborate kitchen with a sink, counter, cupboards, grill, stovetop and refrigerator. The type you choose will depend on whether you entertain a lot, how big the groups you entertain are, and of course, how big your pocket is. Cooking implements may include gas grills, charcoal grills, wood smokers, or fire ovens.

Butcher Outdoor Kitchen Accessories

Outdoor kitchens can be found all over the world. The geography of a place does limit use of outdoor kitchens in the winter months, unless you like to sit outside in below freezing temperatures. Some high-end enclosed sunrooms may contain what is considered an outdoor kitchen, and while the sunroom is not usually heated, it does provide some protection from the elements, and, especially with an open grill, can provide enough warmth for you and your guests to be comfortable during the colder months.

Outdoor kitchens can range from a small area of under a couple hundred square feet up to as large as you would like it to be. The larger the area, the more kitchen equipment and seating you can fit into your outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor Kitchen Accessories

Outdoor Kitchen Accessories

Having a quality outdoor grill is great for those summer barbeques or fall family gatherings. However, many times you get stuck running through the house for supplies and refreshments. Complete your outdoor kitchen with NPT’s line of outdoor accessories that allow you to spend more time with your guests and less time in the house.

Accessories include:

Outdoor Kitchen Maintenance

Learn how to properly maintain and care for your grill in this tutorial from Bull BBQ.