Summer Livin’

Imagine having unlimited access to a beautiful, private outdoor space where you can get away from everything. We’re not talking about a timeshare in the Caribbean or a dream vacation somewhere. We’re talking about a place just a few steps from your house where you never have to check out and you certainly don’t need a reservation. We’re talking about your very own backyard. 

Ambitious homeowners are creating backyard spaces that allow them to escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world while enjoying the splendor around them. Here’s how a few Meritage® homeowners did it.



Community is important to Arun and Niruba. They often share their home with friends and family — including relatives who visit from India — so having a beautiful outdoor space that’s amenable to entertaining is key. Lots of vibrant plants, along with magnolia and olive trees, surround a large stone patio. It’s an ideal place to host their famous grill parties. Built into the patio is a fire pit — s’mores, anyone? — and stone seating area. There’s also a shaded California room with wicker tables and chairs for guests who would rather stay out of the sun.

You’ll have a great view no matter where you sit, but you can’t beat the view from their upstairs patio. The couple installed a spiral staircase so it would be easily accessible.

Although they’ve only lived in their house for a little over a year, they’ve become seasoned at hosting outdoor parties. In their previous home, the backyard wasn’t large enough to accommodate their vision. “We always had an idea of what we wanted,” Niruba says. “So it was pretty easy to come up with this design in our new backyard.”

The couple worked with a designer to bring this vision to life, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some friendly husband-and-wife controversy. “We had one difference of opinion,” Niruba says. “I wanted a pergola but Arun didn’t.” After much debate, the couple decided to leave the pergola out, a “rare instance of where we decided to go with what Arun wanted,” Niruba says with a chuckle.

These small debates are likely to continue, as the couple has more ideas for the backyard. They’re constantly looking for ways to make it more welcoming. Perhaps they’ll install a serene water fountain or add more flowers — after all, any good host knows plants are the easiest way to heighten the ambience.



The advantages of Catherine and Alex’s backyard begin even before you step outside. Huge sliding glass doors reveal the abundant greenery, which literally wraps around the entire home. It’s just right for the couple, as they wanted a space that made them feel like they were at a peaceful resort.

On a day off from work, they can be found practicing their short game on their putting green, which they had installed by an artificial turf specialist. It’s a great way for the beginner golfers to hone their technique. Otherwise, Catherine might be gardening. They’ve planted a variety of flowers to create a rich purple motif, like bougainvilleas, azaleas, cosmos and princesses. Citrus plants make it easy for them to enjoy fresh lemons, limes and cocktail grapefruits right off the tree. And tucked amongst the flowers and plants is a small waterfall. “It symbolizes life,” Catherine says. “It’s soothing and has a spiritual cleansing power.”

In the evenings, they watch the sunset by the outdoor fireplace, a feature that was included with the house, along with their built-in stove.

Another aspect of their backyard — and one they can’t stop raving about — is the air quality. Alex says he had terrible allergies at his previous home, but the climate in the mountains provides the couple with cleaner air that makes it easier to breathe. “We’re practically living in the clouds with plenty of wildlife all around,” Alex says. Adds Catherine: “It’s peaceful. You’re completely taken away from the busy life. Up here in the mountains, it almost feels like you’re in heaven.”


5 Great Ideas for Backyards of Any Size

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    Hang string lights.

    Add a whimsical aspect to your space and lay rope lights along the edges of your garden or weave them through the trees. It’s a small detail that can add character, especially when you’re hosting a get-together.

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    Plant lavender.*

    Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can’t lose with lavender. It doesn’t require much water, it’s a natural bug repellent and it gives off a de-stressing scent. Plus, it’s just pretty.



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    Designate one area that’s just for relaxing.

    Hang a hammock between two trees for weekend naps, tie a wooden swing to a sturdy tree branch or simply place a small table between two chic lounge chairs — it will become your go-to place to sip a glass of wine after work.


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    Bring your interior décor outside.

    Patio cushions can be made in the same patterns as indoor couches and chairs; decks or pergolas can be painted the same soft shade that’s in your kitchen. Even the kitchen hardware can match some wrought iron planters. 

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    Consider an outdoor fireplace.

    Having a fireplace installed is worth the investment — you’ll be able to enjoy your backyard practically year-round. A rustic stone hearth would fit in with a farmhouse or bohemian-inspired aesthetic, while a sleek, contemporary one would look great if your style is more minimalist.

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