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Most of the time, Arizona’s climate allows us to spend a lot of time outdoors. With more conveniences and a variety of landscapes and accents, our backyards have become an oasis. In addition to a pool, there are many options available to enhance our backyards so we can enjoy them year-round.

Mark Wentland, Design Manager of Rosie on the House Certified Partner, CYC Landscaping us that large entertaining areas with outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, etc. are no longer luxuries, but are expected amenities by most homebuyers above a certain price point. Whether you are buying or selling, or are staying in your current home, enhancements with lighting, shade structures, and audiovisual elements are also becoming more commonplace.

“Outdoor living is following the trends of interior design with more and more modern, mid-century and farmhouse designs,” says Wentland.”There is also a move to more biophilic design elements (wood, fire, water, dense plantings). Mixed material designs have taken off. We are seeing a lot more blending of travertine, synthetic turf, pavers or concrete.”

When considering an update to your backyard, Wentland suggests thinking about how these elements can be incorporated.


Lighting has continued evolving over the last decade — first with LEDs, then with digital controllers that can be operated from our phones. The latest trend with color LEDs is not to make your house the right shade of purple, for example, but to color match. Selecting tones that bring out the natural color of the plants or items you are lighting. A different hue would be chosen to light up a blue yucca than an ash tree.

Vary the intensity of the lighting. Mix solar fixtures with low-voltage outdoor lamps on the patio and in the garden. Creating shadows and dark areas is just as important as creating light. Outdoor lighting should be subtle, not harsh, so it creates a mood. Avoid placing all of the lights in a row. It can give your yard the look of an airport runway.

Shade Structures

“The introduction of four-post and attached aluminum structures several years ago brought us affordable low maintenance shade to the valley. We have installed lights, ceiling fans, misting systems, speakers, etc. in them to make them more of an outdoor room,” says Wentland. “In the last year or so, they have finally developed a louvered aluminum shade structure that we

can stand behind. We are also installing two-post structures with 12ft cantilevers that eliminate posts in the yard.”

Audio Visual

The incorporation of TVs and stereo systems continue to become more prevalent. If you install a TV, be sure to install it in a shady spot on a metal, heavy duty-wall mount that can pivot. You’ll need a cable or satellite connection on the patio. Connect the TV to external stereo speakers for an at-the game or in the movie theater experience. Cover electronics with a weatherproof tarp when not in use. Store the TV indoors during the summer or take it out only when it will be used.

Fire Features & BBQs

Fire pits and BBQs continue to dominate backyard landscapes. The styles are mimicking the current trends of modern and farmhouse. New materials have been introduced to the marketplace such as the Melville Plank Pavers from Belgard and new veneers from Creative Mines.

There are many options for permanent grill structures or pre-fab powered with propane or natural gas on the market. Outdoor pizza ovens are a fun way to cook with the kids or grandkids.

Portable, store-bought barbecues are an option instead of a built-in version. There are so many choices; from traditional, charcoal-fired to top-of-the-line gas grills with infrared or double side burners.

Because of the occasional no-burn restrictions, fire features are a great alternative outdoor accent because they are generally powered by natural gas or propane. Enjoy roasting hot dogs and s’mores by the fire all year long!

Hire an ROC-licensed contractor to install the propane or natural gas line for any gas-fed feature.

There are so many outdoor design elements to choose from. Have fun creating a backyard oasis the neighbors will envy.


Since 2001 CYC Landscaping has been servicing the Phoenix area. A small family-owned and operated business they are a full-service landscape company, specializing in custom landscapes and remodels. They are active members of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), ACLA (Arizona Landscape Contractors Association), and ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute). They have a Master Gardener and Certified Arborist on staff. CYC Landscaping is licensed, bonded and insured.


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