It’s no secret that outdoor living has become a huge trend. “It has exploded over the past five years with homeowners desiring to have resort-like backyards,” declares Reno-based landscape architect and franchisor Ron DuHamel, president of FireSky. “The old-style simple patio and lawn area is no comparison” to the new home-based paradises, he muses.
Not surprisingly, the ability to protect and enjoy these enhanced amenities – including outdoor kitchens, media centers, firepits and fireplaces, water features, pools and spas – in privacy and safety has spurred a related industry. According to the latest Houzz home improvement survey results, security for those spaces was three times more popular last year than the previous six.
Covid has played a role too, making the past two years particularly busy for outdoor improvement professionals as homeowners sought to make their properties more staycation-friendly. “The pandemic prompted everyone to embrace their outdoor spaces, and Houzz search data has shown that people want their backyards to be relaxing extensions of their interior living rooms,” reports Anne Colby, the popular home improvement platform’s US editor.
“It follows that homeowners would also invest in securing their home’s perimeter and those special spaces, spending a quarter more on home security systems in 2021 than in 2020,” she adds. The Houzz & Home Study found that more than half of homeowners upgraded their outdoor spaces.
“Brands are also supporting this interest with innovations in new devices, which connect to phones and voice assistants via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi,” Colby notes, observing, “We’ve seen that the rise of smart security technology expands people’s motivations for getting home security beyond just safety alone, to the ability to monitor the home and loved ones remotely. Clients enjoy the convenience and peace of mind provided by remote surveillance, which tells them everything from who stopped by their house to what packages they’ve received.”
Desirable technologies include wireless doorbell cameras, outdoor and indoor security cameras, motion, glass and other sensors and wireless door locks, the editor reports. What are homeowners protecting with all of this added security? The answer might surprise you.
“Certainly, expensive belongings that are stored outdoors are important to monitor, but also monitoring people coming to the home, such as service workers, is a big plus,” shares Mark van den Broek, CEO of Sarasota-based SmartHouse Integration. “Our camera systems function as active security. When there is any activity, our clients are notified wherever they are so they can act immediately.”
For high net worth clients, privacy is a big focus. Van den Broek prefers cameras with local, rather than cloud, storage to keep data secure, he says. They also employ facial recognition to identify homeowners and grant access to vendors and guests. “A professionally-installed camera system strategically placed can provide coverage and peace of mind over the entire property,” the tech pro notes. They also tie into the rest of the property’s technology, he adds. “Today it can be seamlessly integrated into the overall home platform to give people the most control, comfort, and convenience.”
Privacy extends beyond technology too. “The Homeowners we work with are looking for a defined space that gives them privacy from their neighbors and a space they feel safe in,” observes DuHamel. “To achieve this, the design often includes walls, fences, plant screening and lighting.”
“Animal security is also important in areas next to open space where coyotes and other critters may hunt for small prey,” DuHamel adds. “Lighting throughout allows homeowners to safely walk the grounds at night and be able to see.” This can help keep them, their children, guests and pets safe from wildlife.
Falls in the dark are also a risk, he points out, and landscape lighting that enhances aesthetics can also enhance safety. “A well-designed plan should not over-illuminate space, but create a rhythm or sequence of light pools that gently guides a person through the landscape.”
Weather is another factor that ties into outdoor security, van den Broek comments. “We install a lot of motorized hurricane screens.” These allow homeowners to operate them remotely without a caretaker. “The ability to not have to rely on someone else can be a huge advantage,” he adds, particularly if they are involved in securing their own or other clients’ homes too. Remote technology supports self-reliance. It also supports other functions. “A proper outdoor security solution is an integration of features from cameras, landscape lighting, fences, and gates,” he explains.