10 Total Backyard Transformations

You'll think "after" has never looked so good when you see these "befores" -- leading landscape pros give 10 sad backyards a luxurious new lease on life.

Before: Safety Hazard

A too-small deck that's literally falling apart and neglected, overgrown lot filled with leftover building materials make this unusable backyard the family's least favorite area of the home.

After: Family-Friendly Getaway

A sprawling 2-level cedar deck and brick patio anchored by an outdoor fireplace and pergola provide ample space for alfresco dining and relaxing with friends or family. To soften all the hardscape, Chris Lambton and crew pushed back the wooded area to make room for a sinuous bed filled with perennials for year-round appeal and blooming annuals for color.

Before: Covered in Dirt

This backyard is a dirty deal as far as the family is concerned. The homeowner has three children ranging from toddler to teenager and needs her yard to accomodate them all.

After: Kid-Friendly Retreat

Landscape designer Scott Cohen transforms the space with a quarry-themed swimming pool that includes a 52-foot-long slide and a bar. Other features include an outdoor kitchen, a hopscotch court and play area.

Before: Overgrown and Unused

These young homeowners love the outdoors and have a huge backyard but are at a loss as to how to care for it. Woodpiles, that have attracted snakes, litter the property and the small vegetable garden they attempted was soon eaten by rabbits.

After: Beachy-Keen Backyard

Chris Lambton and crew clear the property then create designated zones for dining, gardening, gathering around a sandy firepit and even an enclosed outdoor shower. To provide shade, a vintage ship's sail covers the door to the home while a purple leaf plum tree, chosen for its vibrant leaves and short stature, is planted within the deck. Beachy Elijah blue fescue and other ornamental grasses combine with sun-loving celosia, butterfly bushes and sunflowers to fill the yard with color.

Before: Barren Lot

The homeowners' dream is to bring the romance of Tuscany to their backyard, so landscape designer Scott Cohen plans to create an old-world outdoor living space with much-needed contemporary details.

After: Tuscan Opulence

The backyard now has the elegance of Tuscany, including a contemplation garden, an outdoor living room, kitchen and a pool with infinity edges that provide a lake-like feel.

Before: No Lawn at All

This Cape Cod backyard, filled with wood chips and patches of poison ivy, is completely unused by the homeowners — even the family's dog won't stray far from the deck because the splintery wood chips hurt his feet.

After: Lush and Inviting

After removing the poison ivy and ill-conceived wood chips, the crew expand the existing deck topping it with an L-shaped bar. A wide paver patio boasts a dining table for six at one end and a shady pergola at the other. Professional landscaper Chris Lambton adds life to the backyard with fountaingrass, late-blooming lilacs, spirea and unexpected pops of color with ornamental peppers, asparagus and lettuces.

Before: Uninspiring Pool Area

These homeowners have a bland and poorly designed backyard. They want their new outdoor space to reflect their love of Cabo San Lucas.

After: Cabo-Inspired Landscape

The resort-like backyard features outside beds in light-colored fabrics with rich vibrant curtains hung on the wooden canopies surrounding the pool. The pool area is upgraded with copper bowls housing fire, and the kitchen has everything needed for a party, including a grill and bar. The view at night is spectacular with all the outdoor lighting illuminating the trees and plants.

Before: Empty Land

The homeowner wants to transform her lush backyard into an outdoor space where she can spend time relaxing and entertaining friends.

After: Outdoor Entertaining Space

A pergola is designed with a fireplace, wood floors and seating that is slightly elevated from the rear gardens. This gorgeous outdoor room is perfect for enjoying meals, lounging or sharing birthday cake. To make life easier, artificial turf is installed; the modern grass looks real, but the maintenance is practically zero. A pool, spa and top-of-the line barbeque round out the newly landscaped backyard.

Before: Utterly Incomplete

This backyard lacks the amenities that the homeowners want to wow their guests. They also want the space for entertaining, as well as an outdoor kitchen and dining room.

After: Yard With a View

Designers Rick and Tania King want to make the most of the yard, so they design a long fireplace to frame the view. Since watching weekend sports games is a must, an outdoor living room features plasma TVs, surround sound and comfy couches.

Before: Brand New Landscape

The new home is beautiful, but the backyard is still empty. The homeowners are hoping that landscape designer Scott Cohen can incorporate some of their favorite elements from Spain into the design.

After: Elegant Spanish Pavillion

Cohen creates an over-the-top back living space, complete with plasma screen TVs, perimeter-overflow spa and an outdoor bathroom with shower. A swim-up bar under the Spanish-inspired pavillion is perfect for entertaining.

Before: Dead Space

The homeowners need to update the backyard for their growing boys to include a basketball court and half-pipe skateboard ramp, but the parents also need their own personal spaces.

After: Extreme Sports

Bleacher seating, a built-in barbeque and a peaceful waterfall make this backyard, combined with the garage-turned-media-room, the perfect place for entertaining.

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