By Anessa V. Cohen

It took me many years to realize that creating my own oasis in my backyard is the most relaxing Shangri-La and usable at a moment’s notice.

When we were shopping for a new home and came upon the one we presently own, we walked into the house and saw a huge picture window facing the backyard. It was summertime and a hot day and the first sight we noticed looking out to the back was a large swimming pool with crystal clear water.

When we started to shop for a home, we never even thought about buying a house with a swimming pool. But when my husband saw the pool just beyond that picture window from the kitchen, he did not even want to look beyond the pool and see the rest of the house. His words at the time were, “This is it. I want this house with the pool!”

I certainly did ask him at the time, “Don’t you want to see the rest of the house?” “No,” he said, “it does not matter to me. I want this pool!” So, although I realized that I would have to check out the rest of the house and see how the layout would suit us, I would get no cooperation from him on this part–I had lost him in the backyard with the pool.

We purchased the house and moved in. The minute the movers finished bringing in all the furniture and the gazillion boxes to unpack, my husband and the children ran outside–in bathing suits they had packed separately–to try out their new swimming pool. This was the most important part of the move!

As we all know, one person’s treasure is another person’s albatross. Not everyone is prepared to buy a house that comes with a swimming pool, and there are many young families that feel that a swimming pool is something they always have to be alarmed about. They feel a need to be on guard always that their little children do not run out and fall or jump in the pool when no one is there. But we decided that we could put safeguards in place for our children and other neighborhood children wandering around as well, which would make it difficult for them to go out on their own without someone accompanying them.

We installed complicated locks on all doors going to the backyard, including the patio sliding doors, and also installed locked gates on the deck coming off our back door as an extra precaution, so it would be as if there was a double lock in place to prevent anyone from going to the pool area.

In addition, we installed a six-foot fence around the entire perimeter of the backyard encompassing the swimming pool area and made sure the gates in the fencing were locked and higher than regular locks would be so a child could not reach it that readily–forget about actually being able to open it.

With all this in place, we then got down to the more fun details of creating our own private little vacation resort! I planted flowers and various wisteria around the fenced-in area, laid down a tile floor that was bright but would take a lot of wear and tear, put out various kinds of outdoor furniture such as chaises, chairs, and even a child-height table with little colorful plastic chairs that could be used by the kids to just sit around and have a snack.

For my deck, I bought a long table with lots of comfortable outdoor chairs for entertaining and relaxing with family and friends, surrounded by flower pots full of colorful assortments of annuals. An extra-large barbecue grill for those wonderful lazy spring and summer evenings of eating and lounging outside–even when still wet from the swimming pool! I even put in a canopy of wood slats that doubles as a built-in sukkah in the fall, but in the summer we cover it with a mesh fabric for shade from the sun.

Don’t even get me started with all the pool toys we got until there was no room for anyone in the pool! Rafts, motorized remote boats, tubes, squirt guns, fins, goggles, water wings, kickboards–the first few days after opening the pool each year was spent with the electric air pump, just pumping all this stuff up!

But the bottom line is that when I need that hour or two of relaxation during a beautiful summer day, I just need to make myself a tall, cold drink, grab a good book, put on my sunscreen and sunglasses, go out to the chaise, put my feet up, and sit back! No reservation! No catching a plane! No packing a suitcase! My very own Shangri-La. Oh, what a life! Ï–

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to

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