How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Summer Oasis
Summer weather is here, so why not take advantage of the sunny afternoons and warm nights by making the most out of your own backyard? With the right design and flourishes, a backyard can double as a private sanctuary and entertainment haven for family and friends. And though it’s entirely possible that furniture costs, new hardscape, LEDs and other upgrades can make your backyard makeover pricey in no time, there are plenty of ways to DIY your way out of unnecessary costs. In this piece, we’ll share our six favorite (and affordable) ways to transform your summer backyard into the oasis of your dreams.
1. Add Easy-to-Maintain Furniture
No patio or deck would be complete without a few stylish, low-maintenance furnishings. In addition to providing you and your guests with an inviting space, furniture like a sturdy table and chairs can be a powerful visual anchor for your backyard. Sticking with aluminum furniture is a foolproof plan — it’s lightweight, weather-resistant and requires minimal upkeep. Look for wrought and cast aluminum pieces that feature finer design details and workmanship, and buy extra pillows for maximum comfort. If you’re in the mood for a DIY alternative (to save money and add a handmade charm to your deck), you can build your own eco-friendly pallet furniture pieces like a farmhouse table and Adirondacks to match.
2. Create Privacy With Plants or Screens
Whether you live in tight quarters or want to keep your backyard out of view, setting up a privacy screen can be equal parts functional and fashionable. Planting tall ornamental grasses can offer some waist-high shielding from prying eyes, but building your own vertical screen with hanging ivy or bamboo can add a bit of idyll to your space. For a more patterned approach, try a lattice screen or rustic slat wall that you can hang small planters from or turn into lush living flower panels. For a low-maintenance option that doesn’t require watering or trimming (and blocks out visibility almost entirely), grab a set of artificial wall hedges that you can attach to your fence or set up around a seating area for the ultimate privacy.
3. Set Up an Outdoor Movie Theater
You can experience the ultimate summer entertainment from your own backyard with a simple DIY movie theater. Though the expenses upfront will be far more than the cost of a few tickets, you’ll have access to unlimited movie nights from the comfort of your own home. By summer’s end, it’s likely the equipment will have paid for itself. To set up a movie theater, you’ll need a projector, projector screen, media player (such as the Roku or Amazon Fire) and a good portable speaker, in addition to basic accessories like a power strip and extension cords. Other nice-to-haves include comfortable bean bags or outdoor loungers; a cooler for drinks, ice cream bars and other cold snacks; and trays for popcorn and snacks galore. Keeping a rolling cart nearby can help ferry food items and dinnerware to and from the kitchen.
4. Install Lights (and More Lights)
The right outdoor string lights can add a cozy ambiance to any backyard. Draping string lights over your outdoor dining and seating area — and displaying sleek lanterns on your table — is a great way to gussy up your summer dinner parties. Consider sprucing up your space with other bright accents, whether it’s tea candles in hanging jars, pendants or Edison-style bulbs draped over your privacy screen and fence. Wall-mounted fixtures like sconces and lanterns as well as low-voltage deck lights to attach to your patio steps can create pools of warmth that ensure that you and your guests can safely navigate your way through the dark. Where possible, opt for LEDs — they are more energy-efficient and last longer than other types of bulbs.
5. Build a Fire Pit or Bowl
What’s more snug and homey than sitting outside on a summer night by the fire? Bringing in a fire ring or pit is as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing — it’s a heat source, a light source and a natural way to keep the bugs away. (The smoke may do the trick on its own, but tossing in some herbs like lavender and citronella can create a force field that repels mosquitos and other critters.) Not everyone is up for the project of building your own fire pit or ring, and that’s okay — you can always easily DIY (or buy) a few beautiful fire bowls to lay out on an existing table. If you have some extra money in your budget, you can skip all the handiwork and get a classy teak “fire table” with an adjustable flame height and temperature.
6. Create an Outdoor Bar and Grill
Nothing feels more summery more than a backyard barbecue, and creating a little kitchen nook on your patio or under a pergola is an easy step to taking your dinner parties to new heights. It can be as simple as having a propane gas grill or Blackstone griddle with a DIY countertop for chopping and prep, or something more lavish like a full kitchen station with sink, cabinets, refrigerator, pizza oven and more. Likewise, setting up a bar island or cart is a great way to keep the party alive whether it’s a casual get-together or a backyard wedding.
If you’re interested in more ways to enjoy your backyard this summer, check out our blog.