Whether or not restaurants are open for dining-in where you live, change up your day-to-day routine by “dining out” in your front yard or on your porch if you have room. If you don’t have an existing seating area there, bring a folding table and chairs out to the porch, lawn or your driveway, and set the table with a fresh tablecloth, candles and snips of flowers or foliage from the garden. If you usually eat outside in the backyard, the temporary change in scenery will feel like a special occasion and could prompt a friendly chat (at a safe distance) with neighbors passing by.
Whether it’s mounted on the porch or stretched between trees in the backyard, a hammock is bound to become the most coveted seat this summer. Don’t have the perfect spot to hang one? Opt for a freestanding hammock and stand that can slot into a side yard or be moved to an open spot on the lawn.
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The trip you had planned may be postponed, but why not have an at-home campout instead? It can be a great way to get the kids outside and feel like they’re on an adventure. (And s’mores taste just as good eaten in the backyard as they do in the woods.) Parents can use it as a trial run to test new gear, such as camping stoves or water filters, while all the amenities of home are within arm’s reach.
If sheltering in place has made you feel like your house is bursting at the seams, consider co-opting whatever outdoor space you have to make it an extension of your living room. This Brooklyn backyard acts like a bonus room for the homeowners. It’s styled more like a living space than a typical garden, with an inviting outdoor sofa, a soft outdoor rug and colorful side tables and throw pillows. Cafe lights cast a soft glow in the evening, and a dart board (pictured closed on the right side) mounted on the back fence adds some fun.
As many offices are extending work-from-home policies, you might be looking for a more long-term solution for working remotely than spreading out on the dining room table. If you have the space and budget for it, a freestanding backyard office can spark a real productivity boost. Plus, the simple act of walking across the yard to a workspace can help create boundaries between “work” and “home” as we aim to find that balance.
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Inflatable kiddie pools can run less than $30 (plus another $10 for a foot pump) and provide hours of entertainment for young children cooped up inside this summer. For a more permanent addition to your yard, consider investing in an above-ground pool that can be used by little ones, big kids and adults alike. The addition of beds planted with evergreen shrubs and summer-blooming perennials around the pool (slightly set back to avoid chlorine splashes on plants) can help above-ground pools integrate with your overall landscape.
Another idea for keeping kids entertained for hours — and getting their physical activity in — is setting up a trampoline. Look for a spot in your backyard that’s level, has firm ground and is clear of plantings. Areas with grass make for a soft landing; it’s wise to invest in a safety net for larger models. No space for a big trampoline? Consider smaller portable models, which can be brought out as needed.
If your local playground is closed or you’re choosing not to visit it at this time, consider bringing some of your child’s favorite elements home. This could mean investing in a swingset or playhouse, or building your own sandbox. The latter offers the benefit of being able to be transitioned into a raised bed later on. If this is a priority, consider placing the sandbox in a spot that receives at least four to six hours of sun — which future veggies and herbs will need to thrive.
Consider taking advantage of warm summer evenings to host your family or neighbors for a socially distant viewing party. You’ll need a projector and a portable speaker, but you don’t need a fancy screen setup – a blank side of a house, a garage door or a fence draped with a white sheet will do just fine. Pop some popcorn and bring out plenty of blankets and pillows (or have neighbors bring their own) to make it feel extra cozy.