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
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.?