(MS) -- Every year at this time, homeowners look at their backyard and envision their dream space. Wish lists vary and often include decks or patios, furniture and recreational water features like pools and hot tubs.
How do families get the million dollar look on a modest budget? Do-it-yourself decks instead of more elaborate brick work, pre-fabricated privacy screens instead of walls and self-contained hot tubs instead of in-ground pools are among the more desired tradeoffs.
"Over the years, we've found that homeowners simply want a backyard space that is comfortable," says Anthony Pasquarelli of Jacuzzi Brand Hot Tubs. "Whether it's a night at home alone unwinding or entertaining family and friends, a few basics are needed: a place to relax and some activity to keep everyone busy. Hot tubs combine hydrotherapy and fun regardless of age and can typically be used year-round so people find them to be a practical solution."
But how do you add a factory-built hot tub to your yard and take it to the next level with an upscale custom look? Here are the three top landscape design trends emerging in backyards around the world:
* Partially recess hot tubs underground. By placing the hot tub half into the ground and half out, it blends into the landscape while also making it easier to get in and out.
* Build your deck around the hot tub for a seamless look that is simple to accomplish. You may even save a little on lumber costs!
* Stack decorative blocks around two or three sides of the hot tub for the appearance of a custom enclosure. A variety of materials can be commonly found at local hardware stores.
"Creating a custom look is much easier than most people think if you follow a few simple tricks known by the pros," says Larry Ovalle of industry giant Sundance Spas. "Remember to provide access to the front panels of the spa by leaving extra space. Strategically place removable stonework in this area or build a simple trap door into the deck for future service needs."
Common hard surface materials like concrete are typically sufficient as a base. Lightweight, pre-made synthetic spa pads are also available from local hot tub retail stores, where you can get advice from experts. Hot tubs are filled with a garden hose and only require an electrical hook up so no special plumbing or drains are required.