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Homes with jaw-dropping backyards

Marcelle Sussman Fischler, Forbes.com
March 5, 2012
Guests can swing Tarzan style into the backyard pool at this Scottsdale home.
Photo: Grand Estates Auction Company

Once upon a time, a backyard with a giant swimming pool and fancy patio furniture were more than enough to while away a steamy afternoon in first-class comfort. Not anymore. These days the backyards of the rich and famous serve as personal oases with outdoor kitchens, water parks, sculpture gardens, putting greens and even ice rinks.

“What’s outside the house is as important as what’s inside the house,” says Gary DePersia, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group and real estate liaison to business moguls and Hollywood celebrities. Among DePersia’s ritziest listings is Sandcastle, the $43.5 million home of Joe Farrell, owner of a Hamptons building company. His 12-acre spread is outfitted with an outdoor kitchen and covered lounge areas plus a fire pit, 60-foot swimming pool with underwater stereo, spa, sunken tennis court with viewing pergola and a recreation pavilion. Then there’s the guest house, pool house and to score a home run—a manicured baseball field for weekly softball games.

In Pictures: Homes with jaw-dropping backyards

To some, a dream backyard has a sandy beach, sweeping mountain vistas, or a rooftop garden with jaw-dropping city skylines. In Napa Valley, vineyards do the trick. The standout 57-acre grounds at Villa Mille Rose are a spectacular garden showcase with 500 rose bushes, nearly 40 acres of grape-growing vines, an organic fruit orchard and two acres of 100-year-old olive trees. Wisteria-covered pergola, majestic cypresses and 360-degree mountain views add extra flourish to the grand landscape.

“You feel like you are stepping back into Florence,” says Ginger Martin, the Sotheby’s agent representing the stylish $37.8 million Tuscan-style property. No surprise considering the estate is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Manetti Farrow, known for bringing Gucci franchises from Italy to the United States.

“Backyards are personal spaces,” requiring both “flair and functionality,” says Stephen Eich, landscape architect with Edmund Hollander Landscape Architect Designs.

A Frank Lloyd Wright-style abode that recently sold for $4.6 million in North Scottsdale, Arizona, is certainly utilitarian—if you’re a kid. The desert crash pad’s backyard sports a 300-foot zip line and a chugging train custom built to resemble the Santa Fe railway. Guests can also swing Tarzan-style into the five-star resort-style infinity edge pool, complete with waterfalls, grotto, slide and a spa for 10, according to Patrick Kirby, senior marketing consultant at Grand Estates Auction Company. And for the adults? The Sonoran Desert sunset and its accompanying mountain view backdrop should more than hit the spot.

Here are five inspired backyards:

Sonoran Desert Home
Location:
Scottsdale, Arizona

Among the backyard's diversions is a mock Santa Fe railway train.
Photo: Grand Estates Auction Company

The Sonoran desert and its accompanying mountain views are merely the backdrop for entertaining at a Frank Lloyd Wright-style home on more than 16 walled acres in North Scottsdale, Arizona. The backyard perks include a 300-foot zip line and a chugging train custom built to resemble the Santa Fe railway for kids. Guests can also swing Tarzan-style from a rope tied to a tree into the million-dollar resort-style infinity pool, with waterfalls, grotto, slide and a spa for 10. Patrick Kirby, a senior marketing consultant at Grand Estates Auction Company, recently sold the home at auction for $4.6 million.


Tiger Woods' Home
Location:
Jupiter Island, Florida

Tiger Woods can sharpen his golf game from the comforts of home.
Photo: Jeff Lichtenstein Realty

Golf phenom Tiger Woods owns a swanky piece of real estate on Jupiter Island, Florida. The property stretches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean, but don’t expect the top golfer to hang out on the beach. Woods is more likely to be practicing his two-iron stinger on his personal four-green golf course. Woods’ backyard also sports a putting green, 100-foot lap pool, a 60-foot diving pool, a spa and a tennis/basketball sports court.


Tudor Home
Location:
Westbury, New York

A bridge spans a pond on the Tudor home's nine-hole golf course.
Photo: Hollander Designs

Hollander Designs recently used a classic and elegant approach in designing the 115 acres surrounding a new 22,000-square-foot brick Tudor in Old Westbury, New York. With smaller “outdoor rooms,” some covered under Tudor or round arches, the home features gardens closer to the castle. A bridge spans a pond on the backyard’s nine-hole golf course and “tens of thousands” of trees, shrubs and flowers flesh out the backyard expanse.


Villa Mille Rose
Location:
Sonoma, California
Price: $37.75 million

The Napa Valley home includes 37 acres of grape-growing vines.
Photo: Sotheby's International Realty

To some, a dream backyard has a sandy beach, sweeping mountain vistas, or a rooftop garden with jaw-dropping city views. In Napa Valley, vineyards do the trick. The standout 57-acre grounds at Villa Mille Rose are a spectacular garden showcase with 500 rose bushes, 37 acres of grape-growing vines, an organic fruit orchard and two acres of 100-year-old olive trees. Add to that wisteria-covered pergola, majestic cypresses and 360-degree mountain views. “You feel like you are stepping back into Florence,” said Ginger Martin, the Sotheby’s agent representing the stylish $37.8 million Tuscan-style property. It is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Manetti Farrow, known for bringing Gucci franchises from Italy to the United States.


Normandy-Style Home
Location:
Sands Point, New York

The Sands Point home's backyard is full of eclectic touches.
Photo: The Laurel Group

A sense of whimsy fills the eclectic backyard at this Normandy-style estate in Sands Point, New York, which ranges -- in distinct pockets --from bits of Italy to the jungle and a beach garden. The owner, an avid gardener, added a magical touch to the outside decor with stone archways, whimsical iron gates and cherubs. In one nook, sea shells are embedded into the stucco walls around the infinity edge pool, overlooking the Long Island Sound. Closer to the mansion, an English knot garden showcases boxwoods growing out of giant cast-bronze fish. A stone path leads to an Alpine garden featuring a gazebo with a curlicue wrought-iron dome. Hummingbirds are drawn to the bird sanctuary's trellis with trumpet vines and multiple birdbaths.

Click here to see more photos of homes with jaw-dropping backyards

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