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The Great Outdoors

Putting greens by the pool, grottos with lake views and bold boat houses—today’s exterior amenities prove no vision is too over-the-top. Here are the five outdoor add-ons every man should own.

Grotto by Unique Outdoor Concepts

1. The Perfect Pool
Being one of the first homes built in Peachtree Battle may mean you have a stunning historic property, but it also means you may need to upgrade a few amenities that have aged out. Such was the case with this Thrasher Pool & Spa’s client, whose over-the-hill basin needed a complete demo. The owners commissioned Thrasher to install a lap pool with a custom-made limestone scupper water feature. Now, its gorgeous black pebble surface and submerged hot tub spa in the shallow end impresses guests. With a push of a button, a hidden automatic cover goes right out over the surface—no tedious pulling by hand necessary—plus it keeps heat in during colder months and leaves out during the fall. An outdoor kitchen with top-of-the-line Lynx appliances and a built-in Big Green Egg smoker is just steps away.

2. Luxury Landscaping
This landscape renovation was conceptualized by Marcia Weber of Garden to Love for a Buckhead family who was having trouble enjoying their arduously graded backyard. “The whole area had to be redone,” says Weber, who used bluestone and Tennessee fieldstone throughout. Weber and her team put in a fireplace that was tall enough to draft smoke out of such a low location. To traverse the steep grades, they broke the yard up into a series of horizontal terraces with lush shrubbery. The final bill? $40,000—but well worth it. “The space acts as another room in the house,” she adds. 1432 Woodmont Lane NW

3. Putting Green
It came as no surprise that James Lally’s client, the son of a professional golfer, wanted a top-shelf putting green around his pool. Lally, the owner of JL Hardscapes in Marietta, went to work designing one to fit in the existing outdoor space—raising the concrete, building a wall around the pool and installing holes and AstroTurf. “[Putting greens] are a lot of fun to do,” says Lally. “I’ve done quite a few. We can execute just about anything you can dream up.” Employing a design program called VizTerra, Lally’s team takes pictures of your property and, using 3-D imaging, then crafts a customized outdoor oasis including hot tubs, pools, water features and anything else you desire. A project like this costs in the neighborhood of $40,000, but Lally’s jobs can go high into the six figures. Take, for example, the Sandy Springs client he has now who is getting an entire backyard makeover and wanted a waterfall to flow down into a hot tub. Says Lally: “Done.” 190 Booth Road SW, Marietta

4. Grotto
When a wealthy bicoastal business owner with a big brood wanted to create a watery playground for his family at his home on Lake Lanier, he called in the pros. The idea? To craft a grotto-esque infinity pool and hot tub with a killer view. In the end, they wound up with a stunning structure that became award-winning. Constructed at lanai level about 50-feet-above ground level, the pool costs in the high six figures, not including the fencing, lighting and landscaping that it required. “This type of project can take several months from start to completion,” says James-Avery Munsey, managing partner of Unique Outdoor Concepts, who handled the project. “Ground compaction, design and layout are paramount here, as well as project hydraulics on the entire feature for flow and filtration.” UOC used only the top-of-the-line materials such as a shotcrete swimming pool shell and Pebble Technology interior finish to complete the aquatic behemoth. 7045 Greenfield Lane, Cumming

5. Boathouse
Frank Neely and Christian Reed of Atlanta’s Neely Design saw a two-story ’50s-style vacation home on Lake Burton owned by an Atlanta exec and his family as an opportunity to flex some manly muscle. The duo conjured up this two-story boathouse/man cave complete with a covered porch, ceiling fans, stone fireplace, flat-screen TV and bridge to the house’s main floor. To construct the foundation, builder Barry Wood had to begin the project in winter when the lake was drained. The cedar shakes and shingles were individually installed in a staggered formation to give the structure a look that integrated with the surrounding nature. “We just wanted it to tuck in and look as natural as possible,” says Neely. “It’s hard to make a big box blend in, but I think we accomplished that.” A boathouse like this can cost anywhere from the low- to mid-six figures. Worth the extra bones? Neely and Reed added two diving porches with gates upstairs for fearless guests to take a leap. 1447 Peachtree St. NE