Build a Better Backyard
An outdoor getaway doesn’t have to be far away. It’s about making the most of every second outside, even if it’s right outside your door. Here are some easy tips for creating a relaxing sanctuary in the comfort of your backyard.
Outdoor space comes in all shapes and sizes, from a big backyard to a sliver of front stoop. The amount of space doesn’t really matter; it’s all in how you use it. The important thing is that you create a comfortable place to spend time outside.
If you have a large space to call your own, it’s worth it to invest in some long-lasting, weather-resistant outdoor furniture for dining, entertaining and lounging that you can leave outside. If you don’t have as much room, camp furniture is lightweight, easier to move around and collapsible – so you can stow it when it’s not in use, or quickly move it if you need to rearrange your setup.
If you have a couple trees in your backyard – or even a couple of strong railings on your deck – kicking back doesn’t get much easier or more comfortable than swaying in a hammock. With more space, a hammock stand is a great way to create a more semi-permanent lounging and seating area.
There’s something about sitting around a campfire that makes for good conversation, and you can get the same experience if you add a fire pit and a few camp chairs to your outdoor space. Unlike a campfire ring, a fire pit can easily be moved or stored when not in use – bring it out to make s’mores for your kids and you might be parent of the year.
Now that you know how you’ll set up your outdoor space, you can start to make it a home (very slightly) away from home. With a few touches to make your backyard more comfortable, the best seats in the house might just be outside.
Lanterns, either placed on tables or hanging from something, provide bright light for a small area; for a big yard, outdoor landscape lights or torches are ideal for illuminating a path or the edges of your property. String lights or fairy lights can create a pretty, twinkling accent overhead.
Once you’re outside, you’re going to want to stay there – whether you’re hanging out with friends or a good book and a cup of coffee. Outdoor cushions are perfect for long afternoons in the sun. When temperatures get lower, a waterproof blanket is cozy, comfy and can stay outside when you go in. Beach blankets are perfect for sunbathing on the grass (or drying off after playing in the sprinkler).
Whether you’re grilling, dining or relaxing outside, don’t let biting bugs drive you back indoors. If you have room, a screen house lets you enjoy the fresh air while keeping bugs away. If that’s not your style, bug spray or an insect repellent device will create a safe zone that tells bugs to bug off – just be careful you don’t run out.
Keep a tote bag filled with sunscreen, bug spray and a few hats or pairs of sunglasses near the door. That way, you’ll never need to scour your house to find them.
With a comfortable outdoor setup, you’re ready to spend more time out there. What you do with that space is up to you of course. You can create a relaxing environment for some serious “me time” or make it the perfect spot for quality family time. However you spend your time there, it’s going to be time well spent.
Unless you want to be running in and out of the house, fill a couple of coolers with ice and drinks. A good set of camp cookware should give you all the plates and cups you need, without creating extra waste. When it comes to cooking, you may be most comfortable using your usual stove indoors – but don’t forget marshmallows for roasting over the fire outside.
Whether it’s an indoor table or a larger space in the yard, it’s a good idea to set up a fun place for kids and adults. Board games are great for small spaces, while classics like horseshoes and croquet are perfect if there’s more room to spread out. An outdoor speaker will provide a soundtrack for the whole event.
You don’t need to head to a campground for a summer camping trip – setting up a tent in your backyard is a perfect way to test gear, enjoy a night under the stars or get the kids outside for a memorable slumber party. Grab some pillows from inside, roll out the sleeping bags (or a few thick blankets) and make the most out of every night.
Unzip a sleeping bag all the way and it turns into a big, cozy blanket – perfect for snuggling under if temperatures drop, or lying on top of for stargazing.