Have a great backyard but seldom use it? Your backyard, with a little innovation and renovation, can be a fun and useful extension of your house. Here are 10 fun activities you can do in your own outdoor space.
If you live in an urban area, you might forget that the outdoors is a great place for recreation, but working out in the fresh air is one of the greatest ways to make the most of your exercise time. Steer clear of your indoor treadmill or other workout equipment at the gym and create a space for getting fit at home. Yoga, boxing or other martial arts can be done in a small space; cross training or weightlifting workouts are also easy to fit in. If you’re worried about the weather, install an awning to shield you from the elements.
An exceptionally fun activity for kids is learning how to cultivate and care for plants in your backyard. There are dozens of plants that are easy to grow and produce amazing results for your own budding horticulturalists. Plants that yield edible goodies are especially great, for example, carrots, bok choi, and sunflowers.
Create an Outdoor Library
If sitting under a tree reading a book sounds idyllic, make a space for your own literary pursuits outdoors. Find comfortable garden furniture, build a treehouse for the youngsters, or perhaps construct a pergola to shelter you and your books from the elements. You may also be interested in the Little Free Library Project, in which community members create a tiny weatherproof box for community bookswapping and post it in their front yards.
Mix Cocktails in Your Own Tiki Bar
Bring a bit of Polynesian spice to your backyard by making a tiki bar and cocktail space where you can entertain friends. Tiki bars are easy to make, since they’re usually made of rough wood — like driftwood — and require only basic furniture. Tiki torches, available at most home improvement stores, will help keep mosquitoes and other insects away, as well.
Create Cuisine to Remember in Your Outdoor Kitchen
Make al fresco dining happen easily by installing an outdoor kitchen. Most Americans confine backyard eating to potlucks and barbecues, but with an outdoor sink, countertop and range you’ll easily be able to make the same dishes outside that you’d whip up inside.
Have a Spa Day — Any Day
You don’t have to wait for a group of friends to get together for a spa day or relaxation session. If you’ve already got a hot tub on your property, you’re halfway to having your own spa. If you prefer Southeast Asian influences, you can put up bamboo screens, small water features and a Zen garden near your tub and changing area. Obtain a comfortable lounger or sturdy bench for massages or self-performed treatments. Or, if your climate lends itself to a northern theme, install a sauna or steam room by the hot tub and purchase pumice stones for hot rock treatments. For both of these ideas it’s best to have privacy fencing.
Save Money on Movie Tickets With a Home Cinema
Love movies but hate the lines and the ticket prices? Find a space in your backyard where you can hang a projection screen, for example on a wall of your house or on a sturdy fence. With a little creative furnishing of the area in front of it, you’ll be able to create a perfect outdoor home cinema for family gatherings, garden parties or just your own amusement.
Encourage the Kids to Play
Children love to play outside — if you make it fun for them. Think beyond the usual sandbox and swingset and create a backyard playhouse for your child that has many uses. If he or she is old enough, involve your kid in the design of this new outdoor “playroom.” Consider a shed or weatherproof box for toys and games, so it’s easy to just go outside and begin playing.
Make Art in Your Own Studio
There’s never a bad time to take up a new artistic hobby. Find a shady section of your yard, or create one, where you can knit while you watch local birds come feed, paint the blooming flowers in your yard, or sculpt. Hobbies like these can create a lot of mess indoors, so taking the pursuit outside makes a lot of sense.
Sports and Games Are More Fun Outside
Enjoy family interactions that aren’t focused on the couch? Turn your backyard into a family recreation area, where sports and games can be played. Basketball, tennis, and other ball sports are easy to play outside, even if you have a small outdoor area. You can also take up croquet, bocce, or giant chess.
About the Author: Heidi Krumlovsky spends most of her day outdoors, enjoying the sun in her award-winning garden or sheltered by her Sunesta awnings on the front and back patio.