Soaking in a bubbling outdoor hot tub is one of life’s great pleasures. When the tub is not in use, though, staring at those ugly vinyl covers can feel like a bucket of cold water is being dumped on your head. Hot tubs present bigger aesthetic challenges, too. Just how do you integrate a 600-hundred-gallon vessel of water into your landscape and have it look good?
Here are eight ways to work in a hot tub while preserving your backyard’s beauty.
1. Place it properly. Avoid leaving all sides of your hot tub exposed. Instead, use existing walls and railings to hide multiple sides, then mask what remains with a wooden enclosure. Head on, you’ll see functional steps leading to your tub, but from the side, the tub will appear as a warm wood wall.
2. Anchor an outdoor room. Use your tub to create a spa-like outdoor space that’s separate from your dining area. The example here uses the wood steps that came with the tub, and the area is partially enclosed by a fiberglass arbor, creating a garden-like grotto that will never need to be repainted.
3. Make it a focal point. This cedar tub is a relaxing water feature even when not in use. This method requires expert execution, as the fountain’s drainage system is built into the vault that also houses the cedar tub.
4. Give it character. Consider placing an old claw-foot tub — which can often be sourced for about $100 — in a secluded corner of your backyard. If you’re placing the tub near your house, a plumber can often tap into your existing heater, further minimizing your expense.
5. Plant right up to the edge. Unlike inground pools, spas don’t require a wide berth of paved space for access. Instead, use your tub as a beautiful garden focal point.
6. Conceal it completely. Hot tub? What hot tub? Custom-built spas provide the largest variety of options for concealment, even when they’re aboveground. In this case a stone wall hides the tub from the patio area, while the wall continues as part of a terraced garden.
7. Create a sundeck. Even inground tubs require covers — many of which, let’s face it, are downright ugly. This homeowner opted for an ingenious rolling cover that doubles as a sundeck.
8. Stow the cover. Rolling spa covers also spare you the hassle of having to flip back a heavy, soggy mess. Renovators may want to consider building a deck platform around the spa, allowing a rolling cover to slide easily underneath. When the spa is not in use, its cover simply becomes part of the deck.