Vacation Landscapes

Robinson-Crusoe Getaway

These homeowners and their kids have a Robinson-Crusoe getaway in their own backyard. (Photo courtesy of Scott Cohen, The Green Scene)

The homeowners and their children don’t have to go far to enjoy a getaway here. Their quarter-acre backyard, designed by Scott Cohen, carries a Robinson-Crusoe theme, complete with water slide, pirate’s cove, sandy beach, palapa, built-in fire pit, bridge, faux-grass putting green and a “beached” boat/spa.

Beached Boat

The boat in the Robinson-Crusoe-themed landscape is “crashed” onto a “beach,” but it’s a restful destination. (Photo courtesy of Scott Cohen, The Green Scene)

The boat is a hydrotherapy spa with 12 jets and a 5-foot-deep well; two jets are placed in the floor for foot massage. To achieve the antique-wood look of the boat, landscape designer Scott Cohen and his team built the framework on site using faux-wood siding for the concrete forms, then stained the resulting wood-textured finish with coffee-colored stains.

Faux Rock Water Slide

This faux rock water slide provides hours of fun. (Photo courtesy of Scott Cohen, The Green Scene)

The faux rock water slide of Scott Cohen’s Robinson-Crusoe landscape gives young “pirates” a good view of their terrain. All “boulders” were made on site — bent rebar cages were hand-packed with concrete, hand-carved and textured with rubber mats.

Pirate’s Cove

There’s a pirate’s cove under the water slide. (Photo courtesy of Scott Cohen, The Green Scene)

Beneath the water slide is the perfect place for kids to hang out — a pirate’s cove lit with miner’s light fixtures. All the “grass” in this landscape is artificial, a plus for the family members who are highly allergic.

Asian Garden

This Asian garden is one of three themes used in this Colorado landscape. (Photo courtesy of Keith Anderson)

The homeowners of this Colorado landscape travel extensively, and they wanted to bring some of that international flavor and ambiance home. Landscape architect Keith Anderson created an award-winning landscape that includes three distinct themes, including this picturesque Asian garden.

The space is designed as a stroll-through garden, says Anderson. “It takes you on a path to a series of destinations.”

Part of the path uses chocolate flagstone with Mexican beach stone as a mortar joint. The stones are set flush and are very comfortable to walk on. “We turned the Mexican beach stones on edge. We’ve had only one stone come loose in the last couple of years,” says Anderson. Elsewhere in the landscape, stones cascade along a path to mimic water.

Southwest Garden

A Southwest garden completes this Colorado landscape. (Photo courtesy of Keith Anderson)

In the same landscape, landscape architect Keith Anderson also created this Southwest garden, complete with “musicians.”
Along with the Asian- and European-style gardens, the entire landscape fits into an acre lot. Social events held in the three spaces have seen up to 270 people at one time in the garden. “For a small backyard, it’s pretty amazing,” Keith says. “It’s not as big as you think, but the design creates the illusion that it’s huge.”

Circular Paver Patios

This European-inspired backyard is perfect for entertaining friends.

This backyard carries some of the charm of the French countryside that the homeowners fell in love with on their last European vacation. What’s new: Two circular paver patios, an efficient outdoor kitchen and plenty of seating for friends. Wooden lantern posts and plantings inspired by European gardens complete the look.

Tropical Retreat

These homeowners have a tropical retreat in their backyard.

The homeowners wanted a tropical retreat, and in this makeover, that’s exactly what they got: among other features, there’s a fire pit with lava rocks, a water feature and an authentic tiki statue.

Thatched-Roof Doghouse

Even the homeowners’ dog gets a piece of the tropical makeover.

If, along with a tropical makeover, the homeowners get a thatched roof for their new patio, why should their pooch feel left out? Even the dog gets to enjoy the tropical makeover with this thatched-roof doghouse.

Mediterranean-Inspired Patio

This Old-World patio has plenty of seating for guests.

This Mediterranean-inspired patio offers plenty of Old-World ambiance with decorative tiles on the stairs, a striking new saltillo tile patio and lanterns. A new built-in bench provides extra seating, and the wall facing the front undergoes a transformation into a new fountain area.

Beautiful Views

Photo by: VideoFocus


These homeowners made their Austin, Texas, home a spectacular vacation spot.

This Austin, Texas, home sits atop a cliff overlooking Lake Travis, but while the far views are beautiful, the near-at-hand spectacle was pretty bland — until the homeowners decided to turn their landscape into a vacation spot that befits the setting.

Fire Pit

Photo by: VideoFocus


This fire pit reminds the homeowners of their beach wedding.

The homeowners got married at the beach, so what better way to remember their favorite setting than to incorporate it into their backyard? In addition to a fire pit in a wide open space, an outdoor bamboo shower and a beach-like ornamental bed, there’s also a sparkling new trellis.

Faux-Coast Landscape

This front yard has a beach-like feeling, thanks in part to silver granite hardscaping that looks like wet sand.

A two-level deck to the right, painted pale blue-gray, plus a breakfast nook on the left and a dining patio near the new patio doors, create a lot of nooks in this small space.

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