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Create a Backyard Oasis

North Peoria Resident Cyeana Johnson Offers Advice for Building Your Own Backyard Retreat

Article by Gretchen Pahia

Photography by Christine Andert—Picture Lady Photography LLC

Originally published in North Peoria Lifestyle

Arizona's extreme temps shouldn’t stop you from creating an inviting and serene outdoor space at your home that you can enjoy all year long.

But where should you start, and where can you get design inspiration? North Peoria resident Cyeana Johnson has some great ideas to share after creating her backyard escape.

What Do You Want?

Johnson suggests that you must first figure out what you want and then create a plan of action. She recommends looking at model homes for ideas and taking photos to share with your pool or hardscaping company.

“Our initial vision for a dream backyard was to make it look like a resort-style pool. We wanted a swim-up bar and enough seats in the pool for our family of 7. We also wanted a sunken bar and a raised platform for people to jump into our 9.5-foot deep pool,“ shares Johnson.

Hiring the Experts

For Johnson and her family, once they had a vision in mind, it was time to figure out who they should hire to help bring their backyard dreams to reality. First, the pool. After consulting multiple pool project managers and receiving two quotes through large Valley pool companies, they ultimately decided to build the pool themselves. This entailed serving as the general contractor and designing all the surrounding elements.

Johnson says, “We had to coordinate with multiple sub-contractors, including excavation, plumbing, electrical, rebar, pergola, pebble, and water tile installation, to bring this together. In addition, we were responsible for applying to the City of Peoria on all required permits.”

Determining Color and Style Choices?

After deciding who will oversee the project, Johnson suggests that the next step is to determine what colors you want and what materials you would like to include.

“We wanted our backyard to look like a resort, so we chose grays, whites, and charcoal colors,” says Johnson.

The Johnsons used locally sourced companies such as NuTurf and QDI Surfaces Porcelain Tile & Stone to help bring their dreams to fruition. They worked with NuTurf to put in plants and landscaping that required the least maintenance and didn’t cause debris to drop into the pool. They used box shade trees, queen, and pygmy palms to bring the landscape look together.  

They chose Tahoe blue pebble sheen for the pool and bought pool equipment from a wholesale pool company.

Becoming Your Own Contractor

Johnson says it boils down to being organized and ensuring you get the best deals possible. She explains that overseeing the pool construction themselves, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars going through a company, was a big savings.

“We saved roughly 30% off the overall pool cost," Johnson explains. "And it was completed in a little over six months.”

Johnson recommends ordering materials in advance to save money due to inflation costs. She also encourages consumers to do their due diligence and get as many quotes and bids as possible for materials via subcontractors.

“There is always a balance of deciding upon a trusted, quality sub-contractor and getting the bottom dollar.”

Johnson admits that building and putting together your backyard oasis on your own can be tedious but worth it in the end.

“Building your own pool is a lot of work and isn't for everyone, but looking back, I don't regret it because we got our dream backyard,” she says. 

Ultimately, the decision comes down to how much you are willing to put into the design and execution.

Whether you hire a contractor and project manager to do the entire project or proceed like Johnson and take it on yourself, having the backyard of your dreams is worth it as you sit in the pool, cocktail in hand, watching the sun as it sets over the Sonoran Desert.

Ask friends for referrals and look at online reviews. You don't want companies that are hard to work with because you’ll likely have to call them back to fix something.

  • Photo by Cyeana Johnson