For homeowners across the Garden State, the backyard represents a slice of heaven. We use our yards for recreation, for entertainment, for relaxation. Some of us create a simple, peaceful, family-friendly oasis with open space for play. Others add deluxe features like outdoor kitchens, elaborate pools, custom-built fireplaces, gorgeous gazebos, sophisticated sound systems and dramatic lighting.
Home-design experts report an increased interest in the outdoor lifestyle. “More and more, our clients are looking for luxurious backyard escapes as an extension of their living space,” says architect Jeff Jordan, whose firm is based in Jersey City. It’s even true of urban dwellers. “For our urban clients, it might mean opening up the rear wall of a narrow row house with floor-to-ceiling windows to expose a lush, landscaped pocket garden that serves as a refuge from the city.”
Creating an attractive, welcoming outdoor environment is a smart investment, too. “When a buyer sees a manicured backyard with mulched gardens and trimmed hedges, it gives the impression that the inside is as well maintained,” says Christine Haley, an agent with Ocean Pointe Realtors in Sea Girt.
“We want a place where our whole family can gather,” adds landscape architect Celia DeHuff of Morristown-based Hedges Landscape Design. “A place where we can cook in a functional outdoor kitchen, sit down to dinner at a really great table. We’re under a pergola or around a fire pit or in the Jacuzzi. We’re planning our whole day around staying outside.”