You know how this works: summer is here and suddenly everyone begins to scatter to the winds, right? Well, you can facilitate getting some family time in this year by making a few changes to your backyard and making it everyone’s favorite hangout. Nothing’s better than family time spent in your very own yard, so take these ideas into account, and you’ll enjoy your property like never before…
Take a Quick Look Around Before Doing Anything!
Before we begin the overhaul, first consider what you have working for you in your backyard. Take stock of where the sunny and shady areas are. Are there any large trees that can be used for hammocks?
If you’ve already got a deck in place, consider giving it a facelift. A coat of paint can do wonders for an outdoor deck. A chain-link fence can be hidden with vines or ivy, offer privacy, and become quite visually appealing. Trim up any overgrown shrubs, and you’re already on the right track.
If the neighbors happen to in close proximity, some dense hedges can offer a great privacy barrier. The added perk here is they also absorb sound, so should you choose evergreens, you’ll have privacy for the entire year!
Include Everyone’s Interests
Take quick stock of everyone’s interests while devising your backyard layout. Hobbies can be facilitated through areas that each person can enjoy. If the morning paper is part of someone’s routine, give them a small area in which they can enjoy their coffee while reading. A small table and chair set is perfect for those wanting to play some afternoon board games. Wicker patio furniture is perfect for those who love to read. Children love hideaways, so look for a spot to build a tree house or grounded bungalow.
If your family is like mine, you have someone who’s obsessed with trains. Consider a garden train that can track around the entire yard. These are weatherproofed and can withstand the elements. You’ll love watching the creativity and wonder involved.
Don’t Spend Your Summer With Upkeep
As you’re choosing the right plants and shrubbery, remember that there’s work involved. Select those that reach a certain height and simply stop growing. Also, be sure that you’re putting flower beds in places in which they’ll grow naturally. You want Mother Nature on your side, not working against you!
Mulch and rolls of weed blocker can help keep the yard work to a minimum. Paths or paving stones can be a lot of work without this kind of foresight.
In This Case…Fire’s Your Friend
No, we aren’t talking about burning your yard to the ground. Instead, we’re referring to a nice gas or charcoal grill for outdoor cooking. You’ve spent the entire winter indoors. Take the cooking outside. Also, consider the use of an outdoor fireplace or portable fire pit. You can spend hours talking around the glow of a small fire which will always keep the conversation relaxed and moving. The kids will love roasting hot dogs and marshmallows too!
Photo: Bill Burris
Vegetables or Flowers? Maybe Both?
Garden beds have one of two directions they can go: functional or aesthetic. If you have enough room, feel free to implement both. A nice vegetable garden will provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the entire summer, and the children will love watching small pumpkins or tomatoes reach fruition. Flowers can accent a yard perfectly, offer great visual appeal, and give the entire area a lovely scent. If you elect to go the flower route, zinnias or sunflowers are recommended due to their ease of care.
Keep the Furnishings Thoughtful
Outdoor furniture can last quite a while with proper care and a reasonable investment. A small bench near the garden can offer some reprieve while working in the area or create a nice nook for reading a book. Trees can provide the perfect place for a swing or hammock. A table and chairs can be moved to provide seating when you have friends or extended family over for the afternoon. When you’re furnishing, also remember that the cushion color can be coordinated with the surrounding foliage. Flowers can be the perfect match when considering which color to go with, so take note of what you have in bloom throughout the summer months.
Chat it Up with Proper Backyard Design
The main purpose for this overhaul is to spend time together in a space everyone can enjoy, right? Be sure that you have plenty of room for people to sit, relax, and share thoughts and stories. Conversation is everything when relaxing, so a small table, some matching chairs, and that fire pit we mentioned earlier should do the trick.
Music for Every Occasion
Outdoor speakers are designed to withstand the elements and not look like speakers. Use a design that is meant to look like garden rocks and no one will know where all of those beautiful sounds are coming from. Another great use for such technology is if you live in an urban area, you can pipe in the sounds of nature for a relaxing afternoon in the yard. It’s a win-win, regardless of the occasion.
We’ve Addressed Fire…Add some Water!
Birdbaths are a great way to get the sound of running water to resonate throughout your backyard retreat. A small, well placed fountain can offer the soothing drone of water without being overbearing. Further, you may attract some small birds that the kids would love to feed.
Remember the Main Goal: Play!
Through the overhaul process, remember that you need to leave some open space for lawn games. Whether it be badminton, volleyball, or croquet, there are several ways to utilize open yard space. Exercise is very important, so facilitate it! If you have the room, small sand pits can be used for horseshoes, or if you have the funding, a hot tub can offer a great relaxation tool for year-round use.
Transforming your backyard into your family’s favorite summer location isn’t difficult or expensive. It just takes some ingenuity and a bit of know-how. Before you know it, you’ll be entertaining guests from all over the neighborhood, as they can’t wait to get “away,” and spend a little time in your personal vacation spot…
Jay Chua, Publisher of PorchSwingSets.com, lives in Vancouver, Canada. A nature enthusiast at heart, Jay loves spending time outdoors. Whether it’s gardening, designing backyard retreats, or writing his wooden porch swings review, he always manages to spend some quality time at his home garden relaxing at his favorite wicker patio furniture.