Going All Out
Outdoor living spaces empower homeowners to experience joy, add value, and maximize time spent outside.
by Jill Lupine

As May turns to June, humans divide themselves into two distinct camps: those who are abhorred by the nuisances of pollen, mosquitoes, and summer heat, preferring the indoor creature comforts of Netflix binges and air conditioning; and those who want to spend every possible moment out of doors, savoring the sweeter things that return to life when the temperature hits 85 or higher.

For those in the latter camp, the backyard is their sanctuary. Yet, with the arrival of each summer, the outdoors types inevitably ask themselves an iteration of the same question: “Are my outdoor living spaces the best they can be?”
For most of us, the answer is no. But it’s not too late to change that answer, even if the solution includes an investment as considerable as a swimming pool. While we’re right on the cusp of swimsuit season, it’s not necessarily too late to have a pool installed quickly enough to enjoy this summer. Derek Blasker, the owner/operator of Pool Designs in Yardville, New Jersey, preaches the benefits of fiberglass pools compared to gunite or vinyl liner options—namely, a quicker installation process and a lower cost of ownership.
Of course, bettering the backyard doesn’t have to involve an inground pool, according to Jon Kontz, founder of PLANT Design Group. Kontz’s Bucks County-based firm specializes in transforming everyday outdoor spaces into “opportunities for inspired living.” Some of his clients opt for multi-trade projects to solve specific problems, such as runoff. Others want to transform landscapes that support pollinators, boost native species, and protect local waterways. Yet others simply hope to maximize their enjoyment of the property with a newly designed garden, a stone patio by the pool, or an outdoor dining area to facilitate gatherings with friends and family. Regardless of the project, Kontz says the point is to “create memories by transforming spaces.”  
While such investments not only make a property more functional—and more fun—they can also enhance a home’s property value when and if the homeowner decides to sell. Adding a deck, a porch, or some other kind of “attached living space,” for example, can add nearly $20,000 to the value of a home, per a recent Rocket Homes study.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, May 2024