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USA Today & GO Designs: The Backyard Living Room

October 31st, 2019 by  go_admin in Features

The following is an article from USA Today:

J.P. Hayes, a professional golfer, used to get lonely hosting barbecues.  “I would be at the grill at one end while everyone else was 50 or 60 yards away on the porch,” Hayes says.

So he went ahead and hired George Ocampo, owner of GO Designs in El Paso, Texas, to put him at the center of the party.

“Initially I just wanted to install a grill on the porch, but George came up with a computer-generated plan beyond what I thought was possible,” Hayes says. 

While lawns and gardens are pretty, a low-maintenance backyard can be more appealing for some homeowners. Hardscaping, which refers to paths, patios and other hard surfaces, provides an attractive place to relax outdoors.

“The goal of hardscaping is to make the outside of the house as livable as the inside,” says Jason Brownlee, owner of J. Brownlee Design in Nashville, Tennessee.

Among the most popular elements of hardscaping are outdoor kitchens, patios, pergolas, and fire pits, says Ocampo, who has been in business 20 years.

Start with fire and water

Besides a new kitchen, Hayes’s backyard also includes a pergola over the main seating area for shade, an outdoor TV for watching sports, lighting and ceiling fans.

“It’s like adding another living room to the house,” says Hayes, 54.

A desire for a swimming pool pushed Ana Collins and her husband, Paul, to redo their yard in Bethesda, Maryland. 

“Our yard was mostly grass, which was great when the kids were young,” says Ana, co-founder of the nonprofit Many Hands, “but we talked for years about adding a pool.”

So she and Paul, executive vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate company, decided to hire Jim Rill, owner of Rill Architects in Bethesda, to handle the project. 

The Collins’s children, now 20, 24 and 26, enjoy coming home to spend time with friends and family around the pool, on the dining patio, in the enclosed gazebo or around the fire pit and fountain. The Collins’s project was wrapped into a major interior and exterior renovation, so Ana Collins couldn’t specify how much the hardscaping portion cost. 

Budgeting for hardscaping 

Hardscaping a backyard can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 for a space that’s under 2 acres, says Rill. Adding a swimming pool can cost $100,000 to $300,000, says Brownlee, while a small patio and fire pit can cost $50,000 to $60,000 depending on the size and market. 

“We encourage people to stay on budget by installing a project in phases over several years,” says Ocampo. “We can add things like a pergola or an outdoor kitchen later rather than choose cheaper materials.”

Ocampo recommends spending on preparing surfaces to minimize future issues and to use the right products for the weather in your area. 

Labor costs represent at least one-third of the cost of an outdoor hardscaping project, Ocampo says. 

Lerner, Michele. “Hey, Partiers: Here's How to Bring Your Living Room to the Backyard.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 23 Sept. 2019,