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A Backyard Paradise

It's the hottest trend: more homeowners are taking advantage of having a backyard and creating their own personal paradise.

Danny Lipford, host of "Today's Homeowner," visits The Early Show to give some ideas on how you can feel like you're at a resort without being on vacation.

Lipford recommends adding four elements -- spa, lights, music and a cooking element -- to create a backyard paradise.


Lipford says adding a spa (hot tub) to the backyard will start to relax a homeowner right away -- making them feel like they're at a resort while enjoying the comfort of being at home. Spas today provide hydrotherapy and massage every part of your body.

The Cal Spa J-505: The germ-killing microban shell has 28 jets, a water-fall, seating for up to six people and a GE electric motor. The spa also holds 425 gallons of water and it has an LED lighting system that allows users to personalize their water's color.

MSRP: $5,900 (Prices range from $1,900 - $35,000)

Available through more than 500 dealers worldwide.
For more information, go to

Lipford says the thing to consider when buying a spa is the quality of the shell.

When in a spa, don't stay too long. The National Spa & Pool Institute recommends adults not stay in one longer than 15 minutes and children stay in no longer than 10 minutes. The elevation of body temperature can be potentially dangerous.

According to Lipford, the maximum temperature a spa should be is 104 degrees F. Most spas come with a built-in thermometer to keep track of this. If not, you can have a floating thermometer in the pool.

Outdoor Lighting

Lipford says lighting can enhance the exterior of your home and landscaping, and it also provides extra security. The first step you need to take when you begin focusing on outdoor lighting is to determine what to light. Lipford says remember to include architectural elements on your home, outdoor surfaces, paths, flowers, trees and other general areas. You should also determine which elements you want to focus on with accent lighting or general illumination.

After you have determined the type of lighting you want, choose your landscape lighting system. Before you choose your actual lighting fixtures, you need to determine the type of voltage system to use -- either 120 volt (line voltage) or 12 volt (low voltage). If you want to install the outdoor lighting yourself, Lipford suggests installing low voltage systems that use a transformer or solar lights. The 110 and 120 voltage light systems should be installed by professionals.

The final step involves choosing the lighting techniques that work best for your home. Listed below is a variety of lighting options that are available.

  • Path Lighting is installed close to the ground so they illuminate walkways, driveways and steps.
  • Cross lighting adds dimension, creating shadows with two or more floodlights.
  • Flood lighting highlights objects from the ground with a flood of light.
  • Down lighting is accent lighting that illuminates objects and areas from above.
  • Grazing helps to enhance the surface textures such as stone or tree bark.
  • Shadowing involves using a ground-level light to create shadows of plants, trees, rocks, etc. onto a vertical surface.
  • Silhouetting (back lighting) creates a dramatic look by lighting a wall from a fixture close to the ground directly behind the silhouetted object.
  • Spotlighting illuminates an object by focusing a beam of light on specific features.

    Lipford says Malibu Outdoor Landscape Lighting offer an easy and cost effective way to accent the beauty of your home while also helping to add a sense of safety and security. Malibu Lighting offers a variety of outdoor lighting options from antique to contemporary, with finishes ranging from pewter to copper.

    MSRP (Low-Voltage):

    $25 Hanging Carriage Light
    $35 Copper Tier Light
    $10 Halogen Flood Light
    $15 Halogen Bollard Style Light
    $5 Tier Light
    $14 Mission Garden Light

    $35 Color Changing Lights (Solar)
    $29 Metal Solar Walklight

    Available at most retailers, home centers and Do-It-Yourself stores
    For more information, go to


    Music is an essential element for relaxing and entertaining outside.

    Lipford suggests the following sound systems for the backyard.

  • Rockustics Inc.: Lipford says Rockustics Inc. has created speakers that provide the highest quality sound while enhancing the environment. The nature-inspired speakers come in 27 models of high-fidelity, all-weather outdoor speakers. The speakers come in a variety of rock types and planters that provide a sound that saturates your outdoor space.

    $425/pair PunkRock speakers
    $625/pair TuneStone speakers
    $500/pair Omni-Planter 5.25 speakers

    Available through custom installers and retailers nationwide.
    For more information, go to

  • Bose 151SE Environmental Speakers: These speakers deliver audio performance you would expect from a quality indoor speaker, says Lipford. But, it is made specifically for the outdoors. The speakers are rugged, reliable and the sound is great, according to Lipford. The speakers deliver sound that allows you to roam your backyard paradise and still hear your music. These easy-to-install speakers can be permanently mounted outdoors and can endure the harshest weather conditions.

    MSRP: $ 278/pair 151SE Environmental Speakers from Bose

    Available at Bose retail sores, authorized Bose dealers, or 800.444.BOSE.
    For more information, go to

    Cooking Element

    No backyard is complete without a barbecue or some type of cooking element.

    The Cook-N-Dine Bistro-Table: Lipford says the cooking system combines the concept of cooking and dining at the same table. When the electric Cook-N-Dine system is on, the stainless steel surface divides into three ringed sections. The center section, which does the cooking, has the capability of reaching 430 degrees F, and has a warming area around it. The outer section of the dining area remains completely cool. To clean, just add a little water while the surface is the still warm and wipe clean with papers towels or a soft rag.

    MSRP: $2,475

    Available through specialty kitchen retailers
    For more information, go to

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