You’ve weeded. Your shrub game is strong. You’ve already stocked up on canned wine and bookmarked your next five cookout menus. Summer 2023 is coming up fast, and we can already tell your backyard (or balcony, or whatever outdoor space you’ve got to work with) is going to be the place to be. To ensure you’re ready for whatever fun the season brings, we’ve rounded up the top random-but-useful finds for getting your friluftsliv on.
13 Random-But-Useful Finds That Will Seriously Upgrade Your Backyard
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Thermacell has been our go-to for keeping mosquitoes at bay for years now, and its newest launch is perfect for evenings outdoors. The EL55 uses a scentless, heat-activated repellent to create a 20-foot bug-free zone wherever you place it, and it includes a dimmable light, so you can lounge well past sunset. (Pro tip: Set it up for 15 to 20 minutes before you head outside.)
- Pros: lasts 9 hours per charge, smokeless, scentless, easy to use
- Cons: have to buy refill cartridges, charges via USB
2. Q-Swiper Grill Brush Cleaner Set
No more fear of wire bristles getting stuck in your grill (and, potentially, your food). The Q-Swiper features a stainless steel scraper blade to pry off any baked-on grime, then it uses a padded brush outfitted with an extra-hardy—food-safe—wipe to scrub your grates clean. When you’re done, simply toss the used wipe and replace it.
- Pros: easy to use, effective at eliminating grease
- Cons: some reviewers say the scrubbing sponge detaches easily, need to buy refill wipes
Repainting your porch or deck is an easy way to modernize your yard (especially if you go with a fun diamond pattern), but this particular paint deserves your attention because of its cooling tech, which limits surface temperatures by 20 percent compared to paints using a similar color. That means less risk of scorched feet—and paws!—as you hang outdoors. Can we get an amen?
- Pros: works on wood, concrete, brick and pavers; helps keep deck cool; durable
- Cons: some say it’s slippery for a pool deck and required multiple coats
4. LED-Lit Hanging Chaise Lounge
You want the comfort of a hammock, minus the hassle of finding two perfectly spaced trees to hang one from. Oh, and ideally in a shady area that’s decently lit. This hanging chaise ticks off all of those boxes, so you can enjoy your favorite summer reads while swaying in the breeze.
- Pros: durable alloy steel frame, canopy shade is removable, weather-resistant cushions
- Cons: somewhat hard to assemble, 265-pound weight limit
Imagine Sticky Tack, only much, much stronger—this stuff can hold up to 20 pounds—longer-lasting and suited for indoor and outdoor use. That’s what Duck’s Nano-Grab Double-Sided Tape is, making it a great way to easily mount outdoor cameras, string lights, or holsters for gardening supplies.
- Pros: easy to apply; works on painted drywall, wood, glass, stone, brick and tile
- Cons: reviewers say it’s less than ideal in temperatures below 32 degrees F or high-water areas
A powerful fan is crucial for sweltering July and August days, but our editors love it for a less-obvious reason: The wind is just strong enough to keep bugs and mosquitos out of your face—and off the patio, for that matter. And it comes with a remote, so you can adjust it without having to move from your chaise.
- Pros: three speeds, convenient remote control, easy to use
- Cons: slightly noisy when it oscillates
You could spend $41/day to rent a pressure washer, but for less than $100, this compact cleaner can be yours. It isn’t just a fast way to boost your curb appeal before listing your home; day to day, we love how quickly it cleans grime off vinyl fences and restores outdoor rugs to brand-spankin’ new.
- Pros: powerful, lightweight, includes soap applicator, 3-year warranty
- Con: cables can be tricky to unscrew
8. Artisan Stone Spheres
Add some serious swagger to your estate with these very on-trend stone spheres. They’re just the organic modern touch to make a statement, even if your boxwoods are looking a little less-than-Bridgerton caliber.
- Pros: durable, chic, low-maintenance (dust with dry cloth)
- Cons: pricey to collect, fragile if dropped
9. Bug Bite Thing
Fine, so this is less something for your backyard and more something you’ll want anytime you’ve been in the backyard (and outside of your mosquito-free zone). The Bug Bite Thing is a handy gadget that sucks a mosquito’s saliva out of your skin after you’ve been bitten, so you feel relief from all that itching fast.
- Pros: effective at reducing itches, chemical-free
- Cons: reviewers say you need to use it within 30 minutes of being bitten to feel relief, some say suction hurts
10. Cuisinart 12-Inch Grill Skillet
Come summertime, you’ll want to cook every meal on the grill. But veggies get a bit tricky, what with their propensity to slip through the grates. Instead of skewering everything, grab this grill pan. Sauté veggies in a flash, and when you’re ready to store it, the handle folds up so it takes up less space.
- Pros: non-stick surface, durable
- Cons: needs to be hand-washed, can warp if heated above 400 degrees F
On its own, it’s a bench. Buy two, and with their powers combined, they transform into a full-size picnic table and chairs. Figuring out where your crew will sit at the next cookout just got a lot easier.
- Pros: weather resistant, versatile, durable
- Cons: slightly cheesy aesthetic, need two benches to create full table
12. Metrovac Magic Air Inflator
If you have a pool, there will be pool floats. Spare your lungs. This weather-resistant, 120-volt model is powerful enough to inflate everything from air mattresses to all those giant swans and unicorns and Barbie convertibles you couldn’t resist stocking up on.
- Pros: portable, high-powered, weather-resistant
- Cons: pricey, gets hot if it runs too long
13. Greenworks 60-Volt Cordless Leaf Blower
Nobody has time to sweep their deck, only for the next rain to send acorns, twigs and leaves scattered across it. This handheld leaf blower has been one of Greenworks’s best-sellers for a reason: A single charge lasts up to 50 minutes, and it requires virtually no maintenance, yet it makes your backyard look pristine in mere minutes.
- Pros: 50-minute runtime, fast-charging (less than an hour), 4-year warranty
- Cons: can be heavy (8+ pounds with battery installed), some reviewers say it gets hot with extended use