5 Wildly Popular Backyard Upgrades People Are Making This Summer

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You fought the lawn, and the lawn won. For eight years in a row. But this summer, things are going to be different. Because if you’re anything like many of the people searching Thumbtack, a service that connects people with pros to tackle just about anything on their to-do list, you’re tearing out that withered sod and replacing it with artificial turf. The company has seen searches for the service climb 275 percent over the past 12 months, along with several other outdoor upgrades, all pointing to a larger pattern in our collective behavior.

“There’s a new trend we’re seeing of homeowners redefining their backyard space,” explains David Steckel, Thumbtack home expert. As we’ve gotten used to spending plenty of time at home—and start to look forward to inviting people over again—we’re focusing on “[squeezing] every last square foot out of our homes.”

If last year was about plunking down a fire pit or blowing up a bounce house to liven up our spaces, this year, we’re all a little more confident, and clearly, we’re ready to take things to the next level. So, in case you’re looking for inspo for your next project (or are simply curious what everyone else is up to right now), these are the top backyard upgrades to consider.

backyard upgrades pool garden
Catherine Ledner/Getty Images

1. landscape Design

If you aren’t team AstroTurf, you’re team I’m Gonna Revive This Lawn If It’s the Last Thing I Do. Across the board, experts have seen rising interest in gardening since the start of the pandemic, and many people are turning to the pros to truly give their yards Bridgerton garden status. It’s the most popular backyard upgrade Thumbtack is seeing right now, but before you start mapping out your ultimate Getaway Garden, consider this: The average landscape project in the U.S. costs between $1,034 and $5,720.

backyard upgrades gate

2. fence And Gate Installation

As much as you can’t wait to bust open your door and invite everyone over, you also want boundaries. Or at least a little privacy from that neighbor who can’t help but continually offer you “advice.” At least that’s our takeaway from the second most popular upgrade. (Fence and gate repairs are the eighth most popular service right now, the company says.)

If you’ve been on the proverbial fence about going with wood or vinyl, it may be the time to spring for the latter—the lumber shortage has caused soaring prices for wood, so the gap between the two is pretty narrow (and vinyl lasts much longer). Considering materials, work involved and the size of your yard, this project could set you back anywhere from $478 to $7,000 on average.

3. play Equipment Construction

Everyone remembers the first time they heard Mom or Dad mutter an f-bomb as they fought to assemble a jungle gym, dollhouse or whatever 257-step toy you’d begged for all year. Many parents realize the past year has been hard enough, so they’re searching for a pro to tackle that swing set for them. In our eyes, that $300 to $400 cost isn’t just freedom from fighting with Allen wrenches; it’s self-care.

backyard upgrades patio
Matthew Wakem/Getty Images

4. patio Addition

Cookouts are a whole lot nicer when you have a covered area to hang out in, which is probably why people are seizing the chance to build one now. While installing a patio costs about $2,500 on average, this figure varies widely depending on which materials you choose (concrete! Pavers! Brick!) and how you cover it. Which brings us to a similar project…

backyard upgrades gazebo
Kevin Stetter

5. gazebo Installation

Searches for gazebo installations are up 230 percent year over year, according to Thumbtack, and as gorgeous as they are, it’s worth noting that are a serious project. Labor alone tends to cost about $550 on average, and once you factor in materials and permits, you can easily spend $5,000 to $10,000 for this upgrade. Our Chief Operating Officer Kevin Stetter recently built one himself (that’s it in the photo!), and if you’re thinking of going the DIY route too, he has some advice: First, check your town’s ordinances. “You may need a permit or, in my case, have to apply for a variance to get a permit,” he says. “Second, level it, check it, level it again. Then once more. You can have certain features not match up perfectly throughout but if it’s not perfectly level, it will be obvious.” Words to build by.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...