Your family backyard is the ideal location to create a summer full of memories for you, your family and community. Easy to access? Check. Affordable? You bet. Able to accommodate all sorts of activities? Absolutely. Your backyard’s potential is really only limited by your imagination and willingness to roll up your sleeves to create a sensational space for summer enjoyment.
“We’ve all been practicing our ‘backyarding’ skills for the last few years, taking our indoor lives out into the green space around us,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “Now’s a great time to turn your yard into the ideal outdoor summer room.”
According to a recent poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll, more than three-quarters of Americans who have a yard (76 percent) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home.
Here are seven ideas from the TurfMutt Foundation to turn an ordinary yard into a summer oasis for fun and relaxation:
Give your yard a facelift.
The first step to establishing a summer fun zone is to work with what you have. Clean out flowerbeds, clear the yard of debris, spread a fresh layer of mulch around trees and bushes and keep the grass mowed. See what additional trees, shrubs and plants might be needed. Use outdoor power equipment to make even big jobs easier (e.g. a pole trimmer for pruning trees, a leaf blower to tidy your flowerbeds, a riding mower for big lawns, or a hedge trimmer for your bushes).
List all the fun you want to have outside. \
Identify activity zones for games, entertaining and relaxation. Can your lawn lure your kids away from their screens and into the great outdoors for cornhole, soccer, bocce ball, croquet, or a giant checkerboard game? Do you have a patio table or deck where family game nights can be held? Have a swimming pool where you can plan a “dive in” movie night, and invite your neighbors to bring their favorite pool float? You can even plan a memorable family staycation in your own backyard with camping, parties and more. Get your children’s buy-in by involving them in the planning.
Bring learning outdoors.
Just because school is out doesn’t mean the learning should end. Avoid the “summer slide” by setting up an area for outdoor learning, like a space under a shade tree where your kids can do summer reading. Create games and do experiments outdoors with TurfMutt’s lesson plans (new ones this year!) which teach kids to be backyard superheroes like Mulligan the TurfMutt . The activities are so fun your kids will never know they’re learning science lessons.
Don’t forget Fido.
Pets are part of the family, too, so think about what backyard improvements you can make to ensure they fully enjoy the dog days of summer. Add a water feature for them to cool off. Plant some bushes for napping in the shade. Use a row of hedges to separate their “business” spot from the rest of the backyard activity areas. Just remember when planting to check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Make outdoors as inviting as indoors.
Think about ways to make your outdoor living area just as comfortable as your indoor spaces. String lights add a warm glow. A firepit is great for toasting marshmallows. A new deck or hardscaping could be just the ticket for taking your backyard oasis from boring to brilliant.
Consider the good you’re doing.
Whether putting in a vegetable garden, planting pollinator-supporting shrubs and flowers, or creating activity zones, your family yard can do a lot — all at once both for your family and the environment. A grassy area is not only a field for play, but it’s also an excellent carbon-capturing and oxygen-producing space. Planting shrubs and flowering plants feeds our birds, bees, and butterflies. A leafy tree is a perfect perch for a relaxing swing in a hammock and it provides shade to combat the heat island effect. It also produces oxygen and captures carbon. A garden where you can grow some of the food your family will enjoy this summer gets you digging in the dirt, proven to be good for our immune systems and happiness. (Soil is the new Prozac, after all.)
Put safety first.
When working outdoors, always remember no children or pets around operating outdoor power equipment.
For more information, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit TurfMutt.com.