In summers past, kids would drag out the long, green garden hose and attach a sprinkler of their choice. Then they?d run through the icy cold sprays, with grass clippings stuck to their feet and legs, whiling away hot summer days in the backyard.
Not anymore. For a few thousand dollars, parents can purchase and install their own spraypark right outside the kitchen window. They don?t have to worry about wasting water, pathogens, or drowning either.
?It?s more active and you can really have a lot of interactivity designed in it,? said Tom Lilly, vice president of sales at Rain Drop Products in Ashland, Ohio. He?s sold large commercial versions, the type placed in municipal parks and aquatics facilities, to customers who wanted them for their backyards. ?This will be a new breed of swimming pool.?
Seeing the trend, some manufacturers have created backyard lines for residential customers, for a lower price and smaller space than at a municipal park. That?s the concept Ryan Robison developed. The president of Liquid Concepts in Gilbert, Ariz., built a spraypark in his own backyard. After fine-tuning his design, he began selling the miniaturized versions to the public.
?The one thing is, it?s totally new,? he said. ?Everyone has a swimming pool; everyone has a barbecue island. Now everybody can have their own backyard waterpark.? He designs pads to come with rubberized surfaces that can be used as patios when the water jets are off.
Approximately 300 gallons of water are treated and recirculated through the system, which can start at 100 square feet. More features can be added, from simple jets in the ground to buckets, umbrellas, guns, and even small slides. In some cases, people are adding the features to the backyard pool?s beach entry or sun shelf, where a couple of inches of water exist.
The backyard concept had its spotlight moment during an episode of ABC-TV?s ?Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,? where a spraypark was installed at the home of a family with sextuplets in Birmingham, Ala. The pad featured round spraying arches, water cannons, ground jets, tall spritzing flowers and palm trees.
?We feel great knowing that the ? children will have endless hours of fun, interactive play and that their parents can relax knowing that they are safe,? said Craig White, president of sales and operations at Waterplay Manufacturing Inc. in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. His company donated the installation to the TV show.
As sprayparks continue to move into people?s yards, they will find new ways to integrate the structures, builders say. ?They?ll want to make them color-coordinated,? said Mark Othmer, senior warranty and technical adviser at Neuman Pools in Beaver Dam, Wis. ?Nobody will want a bright red elephant sticking out of the yard. Residential playground equipment has gone from steel to wood, and the wood is ergonomic. We?ll see the same thing here.?
Robison agreed: ?It?s not just turning the hose on and running it for three hours.?