Spruce Up Your Backyard For Summer Fun
It's time to get those decks cleaned, fire up the grill, and get your backyard ready for summer! I have been writing a huge Outdoor Living Special Feature at Skimbaco Home, and I even did a full backyard makeover for my best friend's yard for under $1,500, and proved that you can create a multipurpose backyard for relaxing and for parties on a budget.
As I am writing this, I am looking outside my window and watching our pool being cleaned for the opening day. We currently live in an apartment, and don't have a yard of our own, but there are some perks to it - like having a pool with a lifeguard on duty all summer long right cross the street (and I never have to clean the pool! Or mow the lawn!). This is quite a change from our previous home in the Colorado mountainside, where we had two ponds in the front lawn. And instead of looking out the window to see which lifeguard was on duty before heading out, we would first check to see if it was safe to go out and that no bears were swimming in the ponds.
I like the extremes, and I am thankful to have experienced it all, but the yard where we spent the most time was the one where we didn't have a luxurious pool or bears swimming in our ponds, but a normal backyard with a playset for the kids and a lawn big enough to throw a BBQ party for the neighborhood. Now I just enjoy it at my friend's house as a frequent guest - and I still don't have to mow the lawn!
Here are a few ways to make your backyard a place to relax, enjoy outdoor living and host easy BBQ parties. Now is the time to spruce up your yard and get ready for summer.
Before you do anything else, clean the yard and take an inventory of lawn furniture, your grill and everything else that is back there. Make a list of what to keep, what to toss, and what you can fix up to make look like new. To stay on a budget try to use as many items you already own to create your relaxing backyard oasis. You can hide old tables with table clothes, spray paint the old steel furniture, or give the lounge chairs an updated look with new cushions or pillows. Do you have any furniture indoors that you could move outdoors?
MAKE A PLAN
Plan what elements you want to have in your yard. In my friend's yard I created a relaxing lounge area with a fire pit, a deck for parties & entertaining and a relaxing reading nook. It's easier to think about your yard when you think of it as being functional; what you want to do in your yard? And then in sections; how you divide these functions in different areas of the yard? If you really want a multipurpose yard that you can hang out in with family and then host BBQ parties on the weekends, think about how you can utilize one section in multiple ways. For example the lounge area with the fire pit is in a perfect sunny spot for sun tanning and relaxing during the day, but it turns into a romantic spot for the evenings. Clothes lines in the yard will dry your clothes during the week, and turn into a movie screen (with a white sheet and a rented projector) for the ultimate summer parties.
If you want to entertain in your backyard, and think a kids swing set will not fit the party look, then don't bring one in. Stick to your aesthetic gut -- it's OK not to get the horrible looking plastic playhouses and kids love playing in the yard even without the swing sets. Instead, you can get sprinklers for water fun and games that clean up easily after you're done (like bocce or croquet). While nothing beats making your child happy, being a mom doesn't mean that you have to make your entire backyard a kiddie amusement park - you can and you should make it a place for you to relax too. Just plan how you can ALL enjoy the backyard.
MAY I SUGGEST?
Here are some of my suggestions for backyard this summer.
Easiest way to spruce up your backyard and bring some color in is to get new chair cushions, like these for $79.99, set of four, from Overstock.com.
Add lighting and ambiance in your backyard with lanterns and with solar powered LED lighting. I like lanterns that I can bring inside for the winter time... Like this red Capri lantern ($52.99) from Pottery Barn, it's perfect for the patriotic outdoor decorating during summer AND it will look great during Christmas time, indoors or out!
Fire pits are the biggest outdoor living trend for summer 2011, and you can find them very inexpensively from mass retailers. This fire pit is only $79.99 at Kmart. The lantern pictured is also from Kmart.
An umbrella is a must for providing shade, and what's a better way to bring some color into your backyard as well. I adore this Marimekko umbrella ($153) from Crate & Barrel.
I also love this Merry Products Solid Wood Potter's Bench & Entertainment system at QVC. For $123.60 you will get a potter's bench for potting and it has a storage bin for soil. I, however, recommend it for outdoor parties! You can use it as serving table, for prepping food, and so many other functions. I love how versatile it is. It is a backyard must have that you will have for years - you can also paint it.
Ceramic Beverage Dispenser ($59) from The Company Store will add color and look great when you entertain. Save money on paper products and cheap party decorations and buy things like this product that will look great this summer and for years to come.
If you want a fast, inexpensive and good looking solution for your patio, I love the Platta decking that you can get from IKEA for $39.99 for a 9 pack. DIY deck makeover has never been as easy.
Another great backyard must have from IKEA is the Äpplarö storage bench. For only $129 you will get a storage space for the cushions, kids toys, etc. and it will turn into extra seating or a side table at your next backyard party. The best thing about this one is that it's on wheels, making it easy to move when needed.