Technology brings new level of comfort to outdoor living

A high-tech outdoor kitchen and TV transform a basic outdoor patio. Contributed by Belgard

A high-tech outdoor kitchen and TV transform a basic outdoor patio. Contributed by Belgard

As technology becomes more weather-friendly, there’s a growing number of ways to transform the space around your home into outdoor hot spots.

"With so many outdoor-friendly products that are now well designed, you feel like you can accomplish something that is of equal aesthetic to your indoor space," said Anthony Carrino, a co-host of HGTV shows with his cousin, John Colaneri. Both will be speakers at the 34th annual Fall Atlanta Home Show & Outdoor Living Expo on Sept. 8-10 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Wireless connectivity is the second most popular outdoor design element for consumers, behind fire pits/fireplaces, according to the 2017 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects. In the survey, 70.7 percent of landscape architects responded that wireless connectivity has the expected highest consumer demand.

The HGTV hosts and local landscape designers suggested ways to bring high-tech amenities to patios, porches, decks and entire lawns.

A warm glow

Lighting is essential, since most people tend to use their spaces in the evening, said Joe Raboine, director of Belgard Design Studio, which works with metro Atlanta contractors. Raboine said the integration of LED lighting to masonry features like steps and seat walls can bring the texture of the stone to life.

Adam Ardoin, founder and owner of Marietta-based Landscape Studio, often utilizes the Wemo switch from Belkin, which allows you to control your lights through an app.

High-tech systems that are controlled by apps can add moon or security lighting, and some come with settings so that every light can be customized with a different hue, said James Burks, president and founder of Atlanta-based Pinnacle Lighting Group.

“A crepe myrtle tree with a nice shiny bark that has a blue or purple light, or a blend of that, it’s just spectacular,” Burks said.

Cool gathering spots

Having the amenities for outdoor gatherings can add extra value to your home and your lifestyle.

While pricey — on average starting at $1,000 — outdoor TVs have become a popular feature for residential outdoor spaces, especially for those who are avid sports fans. Carrino and Colaneri recommend SunBrite TV, which has models ranging from $1,500-$25,000.

“You literally do not have to worry about it. It can withstand the elements. It can be beat down on by the sun,” Colaneri said.

Cooking outside has also become a more advanced option, with entire outdoor kitchens from Belgard Studio available with walls ready for wiring. If grilling is your game, but you’re worried about a gas or charcoal grill, Carrino and Colaneri recommend the Coyote Outdoor Living electric grill (the suggested retail price for the tabletop version, which debuted in 2017, is $799).

Weather, or not

Technology may not be able to control the weather in your backyard, but with the right investments, you’ll feel like you can.

Watering your garden or remembering to turn on your sprinkler can be a thing of the past with products like the Hydrawise Irrigation Controller, which can be controlled by your phone and is hooked into weather towers. Hydrawise keeps an eye on the weather, monitors the temperature and can detect leaks, adjusting or alerting the homeowner accordingly, Ardoin said.

Similarly, Edyn’s smart garden systems ($59.99 for the water valve, $99.97 for the garden sensor at The Home Depot) takes measurements of soil nutrients and has a plant database that tells it the optimum amount of water that plants need and then regulates the level, Carrino said.

Products like electric infrared heaters and fans controlled via app can help make the temperature in your outdoor living space more comfortable. Colaneri recommends Haiku Fans, which cost from $550-$1,600 and come in three-blade designs with copper, gold, aluminum or bamboo finishes.

“It’s a really nice-looking fan and it mimics an actual breeze,” he said.