Meet You Out Back
With Melburnians eagerly counting down the days to another summer where we can have our families and friends back in our homes again, now is the time to get our backyards summer ready. The great Aussie backyard is an iconic part of Australian culture, and for many families it’s a place that evokes happy memories of holidays past. But, although the classic Hill’s Hoist, dad’s dusty blue esky from the 80s, and the green and yellow swing set that made an appearance in just about every Australian childhood play a key role in this nostalgia, the technology we have available today allows us to take the perfect Aussie backyard to a whole new level of luxury. Katie Livingston explores the essential components of the perfect backyard in conversation with Dale Mooney, Marketing Manager at Heat & Grill, and Marc Fulker, Director of GreenStar Technologies.
From opposite sides of the outdoor design spectrum, Heat & Grill and GreenStar Technologies’ products both bring something unique to the table. An official Weber store, Heat & Grill is one of Melbourne’s leading barbecue retailers that focuses on “outdoor spaces and selling everything you would need to make your outdoor space functional all year round”. While GreenStar Technologies is a specialist in bespoke smart home technology that cater to a vast range of indoor and outdoor technological solutions, including pools, irrigation, home theatres, alarms and CCTV, lighting, and audio.
LIVING THE DREAM
In the words of Fulker; “When we think of the traditional Aussie backyard, many of us conjure up images of hot summers, barbecues and a game of cricket or footy.” And in order to achieve your outdoor dreams, “Each Aussie backyard should cater to the client’s lifestyle. Your home is your castle, your retreat, your private oasis, and it’s a place where memories are created he continues, “[At GreenStar Technologies] we [do this by] bringing their dream smart home to life, we create their oasis, we provide custom solutions to cater to every individual’s lifestyle.” In essence, the perfect Australian backyard is a sanctuary that reflects you and your lifestyle. Whilst the perfect backyard is truly in the eye of the beholder “there are a few essentials” as Mooney explains.
THIS ISN’T MY FIRST BARBECUE
Mooney’s first key feature is a good barbecue: “It’s the perfect Aussie tradition, but it can be so much more. Gone are the days of just throwing some snags on the barbie, now you can do almost anything on them; from barbecuing to roasting, and we even bake on our Weber at home.”
There are boundless models and brands of barbecues out there to choose from, and while there are options aplenty, this can make it tough to decide on a model. A barbecue is an investment that you want to last for quite some time, so opting for a reputable, quality brand, such as Weber, will give you the confidence that your new barbecue will not only last, but this brand’s broad availability means that you can easily access repairs and replacement parts if needed – either online or through stores such as Heat & Grill.
Taking this one step further, Mooney notes that adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard is something that “really elevates your outdoor space”. “The ability to have so much amenity outside really is the entertainer’s dream.” He coins Weber’s brand new Outdoor Kitchen range as a great place to start: “It’s a one-stop shop with the ability to customise it to suit your space; you can choose your barbecue and then add different modules including fridges, burners and sinks to make your dream
New spa gadgets and gizmos will likely have entered the market since your spa was built. “Upgrading equipment is a great way to integrate new technology in your renovation,” Hartwig says. “Advances in technology now offer amazing options for the general function, maintenance and automation of spas.”
“Combinations of variable-speed pumps, chlorinators and automation systems are viable options for spa upgrades, and typically offer the benefits of improved efficiency and functionality, while reducing maintenance and chemical requirements,” Hartwig explains. “Most of these upgrades can be made via the external plumbing network, or additional plumbing modifications can generally be made to the spa shell itself.”
If you’re concerned about your spa’s environmental impact, updating its running system is a good way to cut down on energy, water and chemical use.
When coupled with AI technology, variable-speed pumps can reduce speed to the minimum system requirement at any given time.
Modern sanitation systems can achieve the same results in far less run-time than older models, and the same goes for heaters. Further, “covers and blankets (both physical and chemical) have had advancements over the years, saving energy and water”, Hartwig says. You can even take the opportunity to replace or augment older heating systems with solar panels!
The latest automation systems, such as AstralPool’s Viron Connect 10, can run most of these systems from your home, or even your phone. “They offer the opportunity to remotely control, activate, and preheat your spa on the way home from work so that it’s ready for use upon your arrival,” Hartwig adds.
If an outdoor kitchen isn’t wow enough, Fulker suggests adding a new level of convenience and luxury by connecting “your indoor and outdoor living spaces with integrated smart home automation”. Advancements in technology have paved the way for a plethora of automation options that allow you to “live your life outdoors in comfort and luxury”. Fulker explains that “an outdoor entertainment system takes all of your favourite indoor activities to your own backyard and garden spaces”, with more practical products, such as automated motorised blinds that can operate dependant on the weather conditions, to the fun stuff like outdoor TV’s, speakers and lights that can all be operated without leaving your seat.
This technology can also play a role in keeping your backyard functional year-round, with retractable awnings that can shelter you from Melbourne’s famously unpredictable weather to exceptional outdoor surround sound systems that are designed to withstand the elements. “Scheduled smart home automation can turn your home into a resort-style luxury sanctuary, creating the ultimate getaway from the bustle of everyday life,” Fulker affirms.
THINGS ARE HEATING UP
To get the most out of your backyard, investing in good heating is a must. Whether it’s a get-together on a chilly October night or breakfast on a frosty winter’s morning, having some sort of heating system in your alfresco will mean your Aussie backyard is a comfortable place to relax no matter the weather. As Mooney explains, “No matter what kind of barbecue or outdoor furniture you have, you want your guests to feel comfortable. Outdoor heating is really the key for this. Something like the Infratech heaters work amazingly, especially in Melbourne’s climate. They are not only for winter, but they actually work best in autumn and spring, on those cooler nights where you still want to entertain outdoors.” For a more rustic aesthetic, opting for an outdoor fireplace, or a fire pit, such as the RB73, can really add atmosphere to your space.
If a simple heater isn’t exciting enough, Fulker suggests automated heating and cooling and smart fireplaces, which can be seamlessly integrated with the rest of your home automation and controlled from your smart phone.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Last, but certainly not least, Mooney stresses that “some good quality outdoor furniture, something that is comfortable” is important. As this furniture is going to be exposed to a lot more duress, due to the sun, wind and rain, Mooney emphasises to “make sure it is good quality look for aluminium or teak for the best quality options.” But no dream Aussie backyard would be complete without a pool! “A pool area is the heart of the Aussie backyard dream. The perfect hot summer entertainer for family and friends,” Fulker says. With this in mind, if your ideal backyard includes a pool, then the furniture and accessories you choose need to complement it. For example, outdoor seating will be potentially exposed to pool chemicals, and any automation you want near your pool will need to be designed for this this specific purpose.
The perfect Aussie backyard changes from Australian to Australian, and whilst there is no clear image of what this looks like, the key criterion is that it is a reflection of you. The best way to achieve this goal is to talk to the professionals, and as Fulker stresses: “Our professional staff are here to help serve you as your personal technology advisor [and] will help educate and guide you into tailoring a technology solution to accommodate your needs.” Mooney concurs, “By understanding how a client wants to use the space, we are able to show them the full potential of what they can get out of it. So when it comes to your outdoor space, the best advice I can give is to give lots of thought into how you want to use it, and when.”
Images courtesy of Heat & Grill and GreenStar Technologies