Come summer, the backyard is a haven for most families. From barbecues on weekends to playing kick ball with the kids after school, it’s a great place to gather and enjoy the short season. In this article, we’re going to talk about some inexpensive and unique ways to really elevate your outdoor space.
The Right Design for Your Family
Outdoor spaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but regardless of what size you have, it’s important that you decorate it based on your lifestyle, your needs and how much effort you want to put into maintaining it.
For families with children it might be best to leave wide open grassy spaces for playing, or if the yard is large enough, consider putting in a pool, a mini golf course or tennis courts. The options are endless and should really be based on what you plan to do in the yard.
If your backyard is your artistic haven for gardening and painting, then putting in a pond, decorating with lawn statues and having multiple gardens might be the perfect option with an art station in the middle.
There are many options for backyard design and fortunately, provided you don’t have a tiny yard, you can often get away with having multi-use yards that are perfect for a playground for the kids and a romantic retreat once they’re fast asleep in bed.
The First Step to Paradise
The first thing you’ll want to do if you have a backyard that looks more like an abandoned field than an extension of your home is to set a foundation. This can mean using different types of sod or grass, using wood chips for easy maintenance or stones. It means leveling the playing field and making sure the ground is ideal for whatever you plan to put on it and that it won’t cause your house to flood if there’s a torrential downpour.
The next step for most people is privacy. If you don’t already have a fence, consider hiring a company to construct one. Or, if you’re handy, try building one yourself for a fraction of the cost. If you already have a fence, you’re a step ahead.
Start From the Ground Up
Just as an architect or interior designer would do, take a piece of paper and draw out your plans for the backyard. If there are already structures like a deck, patio or shed, make sure you work around them. Simply throwing a barbecue here, a garden shed there or a fire pit in the corner is usually a recipe for disaster, and it won’t look planned out.
Small Budget Improvements For Basic Yards
If you’re working with a small budget but want to get the most from your backyard, there are a few ways you can achieve serenity without breaking the bank. Here are some decor tips that will be sure to make a difference:
- A fresh coat of stain on the deck is a great way to make it look like new again.
- Consider buying some solar powered lights to line the path or garden with.
- Outdoor lights strung overhead always lend a touch of elegance to evening patio parties.
- A new outdoor table and chair set or outdoor sofa and chairs are brilliant ways to improve the time spent outdoors.
- Consider outdoor lanterns, tiki-torches and DIY planters attached to the fence as various ways to introduce a cozy atmosphere outside.
- Perennials are a great and inexpensive way to add greenery for those who don’t like to garden.
- Opt for stones or wood chips over grass if maintenance isn’t something you’ll be regularly doing.
- Use deck boxes to store toys, tools, and outdoor pillows so they don’t end up strewn across the yard.
- Consider a pergola or gazebo that can be bordered with plants, lighting or even vines to provide privacy and elegance.
- Oversized planters filled with plants, colourful rocks or even coloured sand can be a great way to add some outdoor art space.
Outdoor Dining Spaces
One of the best parts of summer is dining outdoors. You don’t necessarily need a complete outdoor kitchen and bar, but having an inexpensive charcoal or gas grill can increase your use of the outdoor living space. If you have to choose between a dining table outside and couches, always consider the more casual couches and chairs. They can easily be used for casual dining, but they also serve a secondary purpose as a casual entertainment and visiting area. A coffee table in the middle or a few heavy end tables are perfect for setting the food on or a pitcher of your homemade lemonade.
If your backyard and budget do allow, you may want to consider separate seating areas that serve various purposes. These separated areas are also very useful for outdoor parties and events as they provide guests with multiple areas to congregate.
If you enjoy the campfire experience, consider buying or building a small fire pit if your local law permits. Not only is a fire pit a fun and enjoyable way to spend an evening, but it can also serve as a great method of cooking hotdogs, making s’mores or even grilling fresh seafood and steaks.
The Play Ground for the Kids
Kids will use their imagination and turn just about any backyard into their kingdom. They don’t need a large play structure, a swimming pool or even a treehouse to have fun, although these certainly don’t hurt. Simply having a sprinkler they can run through, a grassy area for them to play kickball or catch and some fun outdoor toys like oversized balls or a piñata full of candy can give them hours of fun. If budget is an issue, consider renting a bounce castle for an hour once in the summer as a treat for the kids to look forward to. Some sporting equipment, a tractor tire turned into a sandbox or a tire swing from the tree will give them memories they’ll fondly remember for the rest of their lives.
A backyard doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes just an open field to run, a sprinkler to run through or a rope swing hanging from a tree can result in the best time of your kids’ lives.
Consider bringing some of their indoor toys outside as well. Having a small box with toy cars, trucks or Barbies can get the kids outside where you want them instead of in front of the TV.
Romantic Evenings For Two
One of the best uses of the backyard is as a romantic retreat for two on warm summer evenings. Consider a set of outdoor speakers for soft reggae or jazz music. Warm lighting or a fire pit is perfect for a cozy evening on a breezy night. And a love seat for two with a great bottle of wine and some hors d’oeuvres like fresh oysters, fine cheeses or a platter of fresh fruit can increase the romance in your relationship. Just be sure to go inside before it gets too hot.
The deck is the living room of the backyard. Some are raised, tiered sections with built-in saunas and outdoor kitchens, whereas others are simply a ground-level platform that serves as a sitting area. Regardless of what kind of deck you have or what your budget is, there are a few ways to elevate its design and make it perfect for evenings and afternoons outdoors.
First, consider using it as an eating area. If the deck is small, place an outdoor table and chairs for al fresco dining. If it’s larger, consider one section with a table and chairs and perhaps another with an outdoor seating area comprised of couches and large chairs with an outdoor coffee table.
To add warmth to the deck, large planters with bold tropical plants or fresh flowers can add warmth and beauty to the wooden deck. Wind chimes add a touch of serenity on a breezy day and an overhanging pergola gives dimension and some privacy. You can also use it to hang artwork suitable for outdoors. Other options are large sculptures and statues on large decks to create various barriers between spaces. Lanterns, outdoor speakers, and deck boxes can provide much-needed entertainment. The deck is your living area. Design and decorate it with your life in mind.
If you have children, consider keeping the yard fairly open, even if it’s well manicured with paths. This gives children the ability to play and utilize it as a play area. If your children are older or you don’t have kids, consider a well-manicured yard with picturesque pathways, streams, fountains, and foliage. Bird feeders are a nice way to introduce some wildlife to the yard, as are bird baths and houses. You can also consider statues or sculptures for the yard. If you have a large yard, consider some sitting areas with a small table and two chairs or a larger sitting area with couches and chairs. Not only will a well-manicured lawn look beautiful, but it will prove to be a wise investment if you plan to sell your house.
Whether you prefer a garden stocked with fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruit, or simply a garden that’s decorated with your prized petunias and award winning roses, there is a garden for everyone. If you’re not a big fan of gardening and the maintenance involved, consider perennials, which grow back each year. Some bushes such as a rhubarb or raspberry bush will flourish each season and are great sources for homemade pies and jams. If you like the look of a garden, but without the overbearing appearance of it being a farm, consider a well-strategized garden with small contained areas that are separated by rocks, streams or wood chips. These give you a fairly maintenance free break from constant tending. Remember: a garden doesn’t have to be one large area. It can easily be broken up throughout the yard into smaller, segmented areas.
The Elgato Avea started as a competitor to the Philips Hue smart lighting system. Unfortunately, they failed pretty miserably and the Avea lights for inside your home are better as accent lighting as they don’t provide enough brightness on their own. However, the smartphone controlled Avea Flare is a fantastic option for outdoor entertaining. This egg-shaped light glows in a multitude of colors and can sit alone or be hung overhead. Although it can’t be left outside (it’s not water/weather proof), it works flawlessly for outdoor entertaining and parties. A number of them lining a path add a romantic glow, as do using them to border an in-ground pool. Even on their own as a centrepiece, they add charm and glow to any outdoor dining table or sitting area. They last a considerable amount of time before needing to be recharged and they provide just enough light in the evening after the sun goes down.
The original pocket hose had it’s share of problems. In fact, it was a problem. It broke almost immediately for many people who purchased it. However, the new Top Brass II suffers from none of the previous problems. When dry, it contracts for easy storage and can be placed in a small bucket when not in use. It’s three times stronger than the original and we’ve been using it for more than a year without any issues after being sent it for consideration. Ideal for smaller yards, it is the perfect solution for those who don’t want a hose wheel on the side of their house all summer long.
Buy the Pocket Hose Top Brass II here.
By far, the best outdoor speaker we’ve ever tried (and we’ve tried a lot), the UE Megaboom may be one of the ugliest speakers, but it’s got the best sound quality, volume control, and range. Plus, it’s waterproof. In fact, it’s become our go-to speaker for outdoor events (we even received compliments from a sound engineer who saw it in action and said he planned to buy one.) It is ideal for small get-togethers, but can easily be used for large parties as well and has seen regular use at parties of 30+ people without any issue. They can also be paired together and follow you as you move or play the same song positioned throughout the yard. However, take our word for it: you won’t need more than one. They get very loud but maintain the clarity you expect from a speaker.
How To Build A Patio Cooler
If you are into DIY projects, I strongly suggest to take a look at DIYPete where you can not only get inspiration for backyard designs, but also video instructions and plans so the result will look great, no matter if you want to build a cooler or acid stain your patio.
We’ve all seen the amazing backyards on HGTV or while perusing Pinterest. Having a beautiful backyard that works for your family doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many DIY projects that can elevate your outdoor area. Even just buying some fresh flowers and putting them in vases outside will add a touch of elegance to your area. Reusing wood pallets to make a herb garden or rusty buckets for potted plants are simply ways to reuse and recycle. What tricks have you used to make your backyard a private retreat from the world?