25 Chic Backyard Ideas to Prep Your Space for Summer
The birds are chirping. The sun is out. We’re already dreaming of taking full advantage of all that summer has to offer, like backyard barbeques, replenishing our vitamin D (with a spicy margarita in hand) and yard games. And to make sure we can check off every item on our summer 2022 bucket list, we’re prepping our yards now.
Dreaming of the same thing but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your city balcony with luxe-yet-space-saving new seating or take your suburban backyard to the next level, we have 25 easy backyard ideas that require nothing more than a credit card (and maybe some light assembly). Read on to create the backyard of your dreams before Memorial Day rolls around.
1. SET UP AN OUTDOOR DINING AREA
First thing’s first: Let’s determine where you’re going to eat. While we have nothing against resting a plate on our lap or going picnic-style on the ground, there’s something about a nice outdoor dining set that makes any yard feel like an oasis. If you have space to spare, opt for a full dining table with comfy chairs that can double as your WFH space. Only working with a small balcony or patio? Try a bistro table and bar chairs that add eating space without taking up too much square footage.
2. ADD A FIRE PIT FOR ROASTING S’MORES
It just wouldn’t be summer without some gooey s’mores on deck. Pretend you’re camping (bonus points for setting up a tent in the backyard for the kids), light the fire pit and roast some marshmallows. Then, once the kids go to bed, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax under the stars.
3. CREATE SHADE WITH AN UMBRELLA
An umbrella not only makes your space look chic, but it also provides some much-needed respite and protection from strong afternoon UV rays. Put one up near your dining table to keep cool while you eat, or try a tilting umbrella (or one with a cantilever) that can easily be adjusted and moved, depending on where you want the shade.
4. OR OPT FOR A PERGOLA
If you have the room, invest in a pergola to make your backyard feel more like a resort. Choose from a metal or a wood frame, then add a fabric covering—or go without, if you prefer a more minimalist look. The finishing touch? Perch a few chairs underneath for shelter from the sun during happy hour.
5. DON’T FORGET THE COMFY SEATING
The trick to making your backyard feel more like a day club nailing the ambiance. Creating a lounge area to relax in that’s separate from your dining table will make all the difference when spending quiet weekends at home. We like to think of this as an extension of our living room, so opt for a set that includes an outdoor loveseat or couch that can be placed in the sun, tucked under that pergola or situated around a fire pit.
6. ROLL OUT THE OUTDOOR BAR CART
You can’t have kabobs without a cold beer or margarita to wash them down, right? That’s what we’re telling ourselves, anyway. To omit the back and forth from house to yard, load up your bar cart once and then refill your beverage as needed. While bar carts are built on function, they also make a great décor accent when decorated with some fresh flowers and chic barware.
7. STRING UP SOME LIGHTS
String lights are another quick and easy update for your backyard, no matter its size. Globe lights not only provide extra light for nighttime relaxing, but they also add a chic ambiance when they’re off during the daytime. Try stringing them up under an umbrella, weaving them through pergola beams, hanging a few strands from nearby tree branches or simply fastening them to the top of your fence.
Shop Similar: Greyleigh Fidelia 20-ft. Outdoor LED Globe String Lights ($67); Brightown G40 Outdoor String Lights ($17); Mccoole LED Battery Powered Bulb String Lights ($42)
8. LAY DOWN AN OUTDOOR RUG
If you really want to lean into the outdoor living room vibe, add a rug that can withstand weather, spills and wear. A simple pattern can transform the look of your backyard space (just as it can indoors), while also protecting feet from scorching decks and patio stones. Look for a neutral hue to tie the space together, or go for a bold print to add some extra personality.
Shop Similar: Rust and Black Persian Style Alma Indoor Outdoor Rug ($80); Oden Eco-Friendly Indoor/Outdoor Rug (from $189); nuLOOM Charter Bordered Solid Area Rug (from $67)
9. HANG A HAMMOCK
When we hear the word “hammock,” we immediately think of a tropical island, a good book and lots of alone time—two of which are readily available at the moment. Hang one between two trees for the ultimate afternoon nap spot, or for a sunnier option, opt for a hammock with a stand that can be set up wherever you please. Then text your S.O. to bring over a mojito, because if you can’t actually be on vacation, you might as well pretend.
10. PLANT A GARDEN
This summer, skip the lines at the grocery store and get to growing your own produce instead—it’s environmentally friendly, sustainable and—bonus!—tending to the sprouting seeds is actually anxiety-relieving instead of stress-inducing. You don’t even need to give up valuable grass space. Plant veggies in a vertical or hanging planter to maximize space for other things (like lawn games).
Shop Similar: Triflora 3-Piece Hanging Planter ($50); Lecroy Mobile Double Frame Plastic Vertical Garden ($125);System Western Red Cedar Vertical Garden ($257)
11. INVEST IN A FANCY GRILL
That tiny charcoal grill you bring to tailgate football games does the trick, but if you want to turn your backyard into the ultimate staycation spot, it’s time to invest in a grill with all the bells and whistles. A propane gas grill requires less poking and prodding to heat up, and actually produces more steam, which helps keep meat juicy. It’s also easier to control the temperature of a gas grill, much like you do on your stovetop. However, if you’re more of a smoky barbecue type of person, this grill also gives you the option to use charcoal.
12. ADD A WATER FOUNTAIN
There’s a reason why spas often have water fountains in their waiting rooms: The sound of trickling water elicits a total state of calm. Placing one in your garden or in the corner of your backyard not only creates a focal point but it also adds a Zen-like vibe that makes stress melt away. Bonus points if you can get the hubs to give you a little shoulder rub.
13. INVEST IN AN OUTDOOR PROJECTOR
Instead of heading inside for movie night, you can bring the screen outside to you. Not only does it make for a fun, outdoor family activity but it has the added bonus of watching movies under the stars. Plus, they come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges and most have portable designs that are easy to store.
14. UPCYCLE OLD ITEMS
Before you throw out that weathered wicker bench, pause for a moment. Newstalgia and vintage-inspired interiors are everywhere in 2022—and it doesn’t have to stop with your great-grandmother’s colored wine glasses! From retro wooden crates you can use as planters to metal patio furniture that could use a fresh coat of paint, *now* is the time to take what’s old and make it new again.
15. ADD A COOLING SYSTEM
Say goodbye to that dry, uncomfortable heat with this patio misting kit. It not only provides cool mist for you and your family but can also be used in your garden. The best part is, it comes pre-assembled, so you don’t have to spend hours trying to put it together.
17. PUT UP A GARDEN FENCE
Protect your budding crops from any four-legged family members or tiny humans by putting up this no-dig picket fence. Because it’s made of vinyl, this fence won’t rust in the long term.
18. MAKE SPACE FOR LAWN GAMES
Break into teams and get an inaugural backyard Olympics going. Keep track of the score every weekend and have an awards ceremony on come Labor Day weekend. Don’t have tons of room to run around? We love Giant Jenga for that reason: It stacks vertically, so you don’t need much floor space.
19. PUT UP SOME PRIVACY
Aside from its decorative value, a privacy wall offers some respite and personal space (away from the nosy neighbors). Whether it’s with a screen, shrubs or a vertical fence, it’s the perfect way to customize your outdoor living area to suit your needs.
Shop Similar: Quadra Decorative Privacy Screen ($399); BrylaneHome High Faux Greenery Privacy Screen Fence ($116); Charleston Wood Privacy Screen ($210)
20. ADD A PLAY SPACE FOR KIDS
Add a new playhouse in your backyard and you’re guaranteed the kids will forget about video games and tablets (for a few hours at least). This one comes with flowerpot holders, a half-door and a snack window, making for all kinds of creative play.
21. LIGHT UP THE WALKWAY
Have you ever walked into a backyard soiree at night and thought, where the hell am I going? Same. Adding lights to your walkway is a quick fix to helping guests figure out where the party’s at. Also, most are battery operated with an auto-timer (or are solar-powered), so you won’t have to worry about turning them on and off.
22. CONTROL BUG BITES WITH STYLE
Let’s call a spade a spade: The worst part about life outdoors in the summer is mosquito bites. Luckily, retailers have upgraded their pest control game with sleek, understated options that will fit right into your backyard decor. Thermacell’s USB-chargeable bug repeller doesn’t just look good; in our experience, it’s worked better than any citronella candles we’ve tried. Plus, it’s scent- and smoke-free, and it’s designed to create a 20-foot-round pest-free zone.
23. ADD A TRAMPOLINE
Get those kiddos up and moving by putting a trampoline in the back. This nifty addition will give your tots some much-needed exercise without them even realizing it. And if you feel up for some airborne fun, you can join in too. But you don’t have to be jumping around in order to use it: On a warm summer night, you can grab a small blanket, lay on the trampoline and just stargaze.
Shop Similar: CalmMax Trampoline ($200); Springfree Trampoline with Safety Enclosure ($1,900); Fashionsport Outfitters Trampoline with Safety Enclosure ($120)
24. INSTALL A WATER SLIDE
You know what’s cheaper than a trip to Six Flags? Bringing the amusement park vibe to your backyard. This inflatable water slide is best for those hot summer days and allows the kids to climb through the rock wall, zip down the slide and splash around in the mini pool and small tunnel.
25. OR AN INFLATABLE HOT TUB
For some much-needed R ‘n’ R, grab a glass of wine and kick back in this spacious inflatable hot tub. This fixture is suitable for four adults, so you can have some friends over or just use it for a quiet date night.