Backyard Entertaining Planning Begins Now!
I know, I know, winter is not yet over. In fact, we just had some pretty crazy freezing weather around the nation. Texas got an astronomical amount of it to say the least! I went without electricity in my home for almost 3 days. But there is hope… spring is right around the corner. This too shall pass, right? 😉 This is my mantra as of late!
To keep our minds off all the frigid temperatures, let’s talk about outdoor entertainment areas.
What are the projects that we need to plan for, items to get ordered, and construction to get scheduled NOW… so we are ready for entertaining (and the warmer weather) when it gets here? Because let’s face it, Texas changes to a brutal heat in a hot second so it’s best to be ready!
Take an inventory of all of the different spaces or zones in your backyard. What are the different activities your family does back there? Consider the separate hangout zones available in your backyard that provide a variety for guests where multiple groups can gather. For example, if the adults are sitting around the firepit, the kids might be out in the playhouse, in the horseshoe pit, or playing in the pool. Later, everyone can join together in the outdoor movie area to watch a video and snack on popcorn. Perhaps you have a great blank wall that is perfect for projecting a movie on?!
Now, make a list of all the outdoor areas – spaces that you already have and ideas for any spaces that you might like to add. Maybe you have multi-functional spaces that can be utilized for different activities. Under each section, make notes of big or small projects you want to add, landscaping jobs, maintenance that needs to be done, and anything else that needs work out of doors.
The following are top backyard areas to consider.
Almost every backyard has some sort of greenery. Unless you have a zero-scape yard, you’ll need to make notes about maintain preparing and fertilizing the grass. The trees need to be cared for and the sprinkler system needs to be serviced. More and more, I have client’s adding turf to their backyards so that maintenance is low and the look has become a lot more natural!
Most of us add beauty and visual interest through flowers, trees, and shrubbery.
- What items do you want to add to your yard this year?
- What annual and perineal items need to be purchased? Consider perineal plants that come back year after year.
- Is there a special feature that you’d like to put in this year such as a stone water feature, a rock garden, tiered flower beds, lighted path, hedge, or shrubbery?
- What will go into creating that? Do you need to hire a landscape company or consult your local nursery? Many nurseries provide landscaping services and deliver.
2. A Firepit
A firepit is a popular gathering place when entertaining. Nothing quiet compares to the natural ambience of a real flame. It’s the perfect place to circle around to have a drink or roast marshmallows. You can have one built-in permanently or use a portable firepit to move around the yard. If you don’t care to chop wood or play Russian roulette with that annoying smoke, you can have an underground gas line run to it that will turn the fire on with only the flip of a switch. There is also the option to use a propane connection for your fire pit.
- Built-in firepit (or grill) projects take a little planning and construction.
- If you’re running a gas line in, you’ll need to get your local utility company involved to mark your property’s utilities and hire a company to lay the code compliant piping and connect the gas.
3. The Grill
Summer BBQ’s revolve around the backyard grill. You might consider the location of your grill compared to your guests, house, and furniture. More than one backyard grill has warped (or worse) the siding of the house. An outdoor kitchen offers convenient prep meals, a built-in sink, and small refrigerator perfect for entertainment. I, personally, have a Kimono Grill and love the taste of food grilled on it year round!
- Spring is a good time to service your grill components.
- At the very least, you may need to check and fill the propane tank.
Outdoor lighting sets the mood for backyard entertaining. Light up the night with plenty of different kinds of lighting. You not only need a main light on the side of your home with far reach to find items at night or clean up, but you can also have recessed lighting in canisters built into the soffits or pendants on the side of the house. Other options include hanging lanterns, globe lighting, tiki torches, or string lighting. Uplighting plants and water features gives a dramatic and warm effect.
My son wanted to hang a string of Edison bulbs in the trees to mimic a fairyland. Suspend them from the roof and drape them across the deck to bring a relaxed and twinkling calmness creating memories your family will remember forever. Better yet, they can be solar so that you don’t need to plug them in or pay for the electricity!
There are many blistering hot afternoons and a few dreary rainy days that inspire homeowners to build covered refuge in their backyard. A pavilion, either an extension of your home or a freestanding structure, offers a retreat from the elements. A pergola provides minimal shade and an additional aesthetic to your deck. A charming gazebo is a quiet retreat to read a book, a nook to have an chat with friend, and even a spot for an intimate wedding. An arbor can provide a little shade, a interesting flowering vine feature, and a bench for visiting.
- An outdoor covering is a larger project. Building permits will be needed, lumber ordered, a contractor hired (or plans drawn up if you’re doing it yourself), groundwork needed if it requires you to move land or dig foundational support, and much more.
- If you already have an outdoor covering, consider what maintenance it needs from the harsh winter.
- Many of my clients add screens to their back patios to create a bug free area to enjoy when the weather is nice. Many of the screens will be translucent enough so that you don’t lose the view.
Whether alone with a good book, eating an evening meal with your family, or spending time with special invited guests, everyone needs a place to sit. During mealtime, an outdoor dining set is a must. Read more about material options for patio furniture:
Other seating options include a hammock, lounge chairs, outdoor sofas, deck chairs, and benches. Other decorative ideas to give your backyard seating a cozy feel are throw pillows, cushions, accent storage, and blankets. Backyard furniture can turn an ordinary area into a resort-like paradise. Read more about outdoor living – Beyond The Patio here.
- What old pieces are worn and need to be replaced?
- What new pieces would you like to add that you can research and purchase?
- Are there any seating options that you’d like to build for the upcoming summer?
8. Family Game/Entertainment Areas
A family needs space to play. Ideas for this type of space are: horseshoes, a trampoline, a treehouse, a craft station, outdoor bar, pool, hot tub, sand box, or garden. You’ll need grassy areas for bocce ball, cornhole, spike ball, volleyball, a slip-n-slide, or an outdoor theatre. Take a look at your deck area, stone paths, or pavers too, are they needing maintenance or are you wanting to put one of these features in?
I don’t know about you, but I can endure weeks and weeks of more snow, wind, and cold ONLY IF I can plan and dream about warm, lazy summer days in the beautiful, green backyard with friends and family.
Get the conversation started with your family now and make a short list of which project you’d like to make happen this year. Call around to hire the right contractor or visit your local home improvement store and set the date to get your project completed – just in time for warm weather. Or, ask us and we can refer some great contractors we’ve worked with to do the job!
If you’d like to see more of our projects, follow us on Instagram at @bgidesigner.