14 Chic Backyard Ideas to Prep Your Space for Summer
The birds are chirping. The sun is out. And, yes, we’ll be in our homes for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t have to mean missing out on the best summer has to offer, like backyard barbeques, replenishing our vitamin D (with a spicy margarita in hand) and yard games galore. It’s just about prepping your space—no matter how big or small— for the sunny days ahead.
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 14 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
Ivy Bronx Backlund Outdoor Dining Set
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. Create Shade with an Umbrella
Sol 72 Outdoor Capri 9-ft. Cantilever Umbrella
An umbrella not only makes your space look chic, 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.
3. Or Opt for a Pergola
Coolaroo Aurora Smoke 9.1 ft. x 9.1 ft. Metal Pergola with Canopy
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.
4. Invest in a Fancy Grill
Nexgrill Deluxe 6-Burner Propane Gas Grill with Side Burner
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. Plus, you can use a gas grill on rainy days, unlike charcoal grills, which will extinguish if the coals get wet.
5. Roll Out the Outdoor Bar Cart
Woven Bistro Indoor/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.
6. Don’t Forget the Comfy Seating
Yardbird Langdon Outdoor Loveseat Set with Fixed Chairs
The trick to making your backyard feel more like a day club is all about 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.
7. Hang a Hammock
Latitude Run Adelfo Portable Quilted 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.
8. Add a Fire Pit for Roasting S’mores
August Grove Furness Steel Wood Burning Fire Pit
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.
9. Lay Down an Outdoor Rug
Andover Mills Amalia Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug
If you really want to lean into the outdoor living room vibe, add a rug that can withstand weather, spills and wear. This is also a great option for a quick and easy upgrade if you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend. 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.
10. String Up Some Lights
Greyleigh Fidelia 20-ft. Outdoor LED Globe String Lights (Set of 2)
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.
11. Plant a Garden
Crate and Barrel 4 Box, Wall-Mounted Planter
These days, trips to the grocery store add even more stress than usual. There’s the waiting in line, six feet from the next customer, just to get into the store, and then there’s the mad dash through the picked-over shelves once inside. Take advantage of warm, sunny weather 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).
12. Add a Water Fountain
Pottery Barn Ternary Fountain
There’s a reason 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 ambiance that makes stress melt away. Bonus points if you can get the hubs to give you a little shoulder rub.
13. Make Space for Lawn Games
Jenga GIANT JS7 Hardwood Game
While we can’t necessarily host big barbecues just yet, we can get into a little friendly competition with the family in our own yard. Break into teams and get the inaugural backyard Olympics going. Keep track of score every weekend and have an awards ceremony on 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.
14. Add a Play Space for Kids
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Playhouse
Bring the park (and the water park) to your backyard, and you’ve basically guaranteed weekend after weekend of fun for your kids. Build a new swing set or playhouse, or set up something more temporary, like a sand and water table or a bounce house that can be easily deflated when not in use. With a backyard this fun, they’ll forget about video games and tablets (for a few hours at least).