Once upon a time, a backyard with a giant swimming pool and fancy patio furniture were more than enough to while away a steamy afternoon in first-class comfort. Not anymore. These days the backyards of the rich and famous serve as personal oases with outdoor kitchens, water parks, sculpture gardens, putting greens and even ice rinks.
“What’s outside the house is as important as what’s inside the house,” says Gary DePersia, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group and real estate liaison to business moguls and Hollywood celebrities. Among DePersia’s ritziest listings is Sandcastle, the $43.5 million home of Joe Farrell, owner of a Hamptons building company. His 12-acre spread is outfitted with an outdoor kitchen and covered lounge areas plus a fire pit, 60-foot swimming pool with underwater stereo, spa, sunken tennis court with viewing pergola and a recreation pavilion. Then there’s the guest house, pool house and to score a home run—a manicured baseball field for weekly softball games.
To some, a dream backyard has a sandy beach, sweeping mountain vistas, or a rooftop garden with jaw-dropping city skylines. In Napa Valley, vineyards do the trick. The standout 57-acre grounds at Villa Mille Rose are a spectacular garden showcase with 500 rose bushes, nearly 40 acres of grape-growing vines, an organic fruit orchard and two acres of 100-year-old olive trees. Wisteria-covered pergola, majestic cypresses and 360-degree mountain views add extra flourish to the grand landscape.
“You feel like you are stepping back into Florence,” says Ginger Martin, the Sotheby’s agent representing the stylish $37.8 million Tuscan-style property. No surprise considering the estate is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Manetti Farrow, known for bringing Gucci franchises from Italy to the United States.
“Backyards are personal spaces,” requiring both “flair and functionality,” says Stephen Eich, landscape architect with Edmund Hollander Landscape Architect Designs.
A Frank Lloyd Wright-style abode that recently sold for $4.6 million in North Scottsdale, Arizona, is certainly utilitarian—if you’re a kid. The desert crash pad’s backyard sports a 300-foot zip line and a chugging train custom built to resemble the Santa Fe railway. Guests can also swing Tarzan-style into the five-star resort-style infinity edge pool, complete with waterfalls, grotto, slide and a spa for 10, according to Patrick Kirby, senior marketing consultant at Grand Estates Auction Company. And for the adults? The Sonoran Desert sunset and its accompanying mountain view backdrop should more than hit the spot.