“Something different happens when you are sitting outside,” said Pat Karlsson Backe, a fitness and Pilates instructor. Her husband, Kevin, brought his hot tub to their marriage three years ago, then they added a small, portable fire pit to celebrate their first Christmas together. Their Franconia back yard, with its slate patio and view of the woods, became their favorite hangout. It’s “good for the soul,” she said. “You have the ability to take in the evening air as nature takes away all the stresses of the workday.”
Whether seeking a focal point for gatherings or for solitary contemplation, here are some things to consider before installing a backyard hot tub or fire pit.
Hot tubs in the Washington DC area
Is your primary goal hydrotherapy for aching muscles, simple relaxation or socializing with friends?
Customers often say they want a hot tub – also called a spa – big enough for a party, said Dave Cintorino, owner of Home Escapes, a spa and patio furniture store in Reston. “Most often it’s one or two people at a time, so get the one you want,” he said.
Kevin Backe purchased his hot tub 20 years ago, when he was in his 30s. It’s a basic no-frills three-seater, which he and Pat, avid runners, use to limber up before exercising and for soothing soaks afterward.
Lise and Steve Lingo use their eight-person spa several times a week in the back yard of their Herndon townhouse, most frequently in winter.
“In the morning it wakes you up, gently,” Lise Lingo said. “In the evening, it puts you to sleep.”
Sprinting from your cozy indoors to the warmth of the water can be a challenge in the winter, so the closer the spa is to your house, the more likely you are to use use it.
“The trade-off may be the view,” said Charlie Hyink, owner of Vienna Hot Tubs and Patio in McLean, “so seek the best compromise.”
The Lingos, for example, installed a ceiling under their deck to protect the area between house and tub from snow and ice. It’s important to make sure you have a non-slip surface to guard against falls.
Acoustics count, too. Will the sound of spa jets, heaters or pumps be bothersome if your unit is near a bedroom window or a nearby house?