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What if you could create your own family entertainment, without putting miles on your car and emptying your wallet? We’ve got 10 backyard ideas to turn your house into the go-to hangout this summer.


Summertime is here. Bring on the beach trips, annual family vacations and weekend camping getaways. Between the costs of transportation, food, lodging and activities, however, the American family of four spends $4,580 on summer travel. Let’s be honest — not everyone can swing that kind of together time.

What if you could create your own family entertainment, without putting miles on your car and emptying your wallet?

With a little hard work and a whole lot of creativity, you can tackle DIY projects and turn your own backyard into the go-to hangout this summer.

10 backyard ideas that will rock your summer

1. Add dimension to your space.

outdoor window

Whether you have a small backyard or want to spruce up a large one, adding a mirror will add dimension by giving the illusion of more space. All you need is an old window frame, a mirror and a few supplies to pull it all together.

Start by removing any old glass from the windows, then cover the panes with your favorite shade of outdoor paint. Finish the job by adhering the frame on top of a mirror. You can then hang your new decoration from a barn, shed, wall, fence or any other flat space that needs a little love.

2. Extend lighting beyond the patio.

You may have lighting on your patio, but what about the rest of your backyard space? Easily illuminate your entire lawn with these three solutions:

  • Mason jars: Fill mason jars with tea lights, attach rope or wire and hang them from tree branches, along your shed or anywhere else in the yard.
  • String lights: These aren’t just for Christmas! Wrap outdoor-safe lights around tree trunks or branches, from your shed or along your fence. You can find these in multiple sizes, shapes and colors at most home stores.
  • DIY citronella candles: Don’t let those pesky little mosquitoes ruin your warm summer nights. By creating DIY citronella candles, you can keep them away and add some ambiance to your backyard space. Fill empty wine bottles with citronella torch fuel, add a tiki replacement wick, secure them together and place them around the yard. Find the full tutorial here.

3. Host an outdoor movie theater.

Why spend money at the drive-in when you can invite your guests to your own backyard theater? With a few DIY projects, you can lose the crowd and create your own cinematic experience.

DIY movie seats:

  • Pick a decorative outdoor bench or chair cushion.
  • For each chair, cut two pieces of plywood that are large enough to fit the width and height of the cushion. Paint these to match, and then attach the two pieces of plywood with hinges.
  • Paint two 1” x 2” pieces of wood, and screw each one to the bottom inside of the boards, leaving a few inches of the screw at the bottom to push into the grass (this will keep it from sliding around.)
  • Place the cushion on the wood, and enjoy your feature presentation.

DIY movie screen:

  • Find a large piece of wood or substitute a foam board.
  • Stretch a white queen-sized bedsheet across the wood, attaching it along the edges.
  • Screw in support legs to help keep the screen upright.
  • Plug your projector into your laptop (you may need extension cords), add some speakers, bring out the snacks and enjoy!

4. Make it cozy.

You don’t need a full-size patio to make you and your guests feel at home. Use your imagination to create the ultimate outdoor seating arrangement.

  • Cinder block bench: Position cinder blocks together to arrange your desired bench size. Then, cut foam and plywood to fit the size of the bench, stapling fabric around them to create a cushion. Complete the look with decorative pillows.
  • Mobile seating: You may not have room for stationed seating in your yard, but that’s okay — mobile seating can still be fun! Remember those ugly folding chairs you have tucked away in the garage? Bring them out of hiding. Cover them in outdoor spray paint, throw a cushion on top and enjoy some rest and relaxation time with your family.
  • Tree bench: If you have a large tree in your backyard, take advantage of it! Set up a simple circular bench surrounding the tree, and use the natural shade to unwind after a long day. Get the tutorial here.
READ ALSO:  How to Throw an Affordable Dinner Party + Planning Checklist

5. Get growing.

Gardening is more than just a summer hobby. According to CNN, spending some time in the dirt can relieve stress, support brain function, promote positive health and more.

“Invite nature into your backyard this summer,” Susan Carraretto from 5 Minutes for Mom says. “Your backyard is begging to grow a few good seeds. Inspire your children to eat more fruits and vegetables by involving them in the gardening process. Make bird feeders, and if you have a little extra space, consider setting up a bird bath.”

Aside from a traditional garden, you can also use gardening for privacy. By planting sunflowers in a circle in your lawn, you’ll be able create a shady spot to read, chat privately and sit back.

6. Create a backyard carrier.

When it’s a beautiful day, you want to stay outside. Cut down on the countless trips you take into the house by bringing your necessities outdoors. Use a rolling cart, tray or basket to conveniently store your grilling items, s’mores goodies or your favorite summer beverages.

  • Fireside: Fill it with wood, lighting fluid, s’mores necessities and more when you have company over for fires.
  • Grilling: Keep your tools, ingredients and plates easily accessible and transportable when grilling up your summertime meals.
  • Poolside: Load up the ice bucket, stock up on your favorite beverage mixes and enjoy a sunny afternoon poolside.

7. Make a pathway.


Pathways are a functional and decorative addition to your backyard, whether you decide to use stone, brick, pallet wood or cement. While a full DIY project might seem a little intimidating to tackle, there are many simple options available.

Want to add a little flare? Wrap rope light around the sides, illuminating your walkway during the evening.

8. Ditch the waterpark passes.

There’s no need to spend your savings on expensive waterpark admission passes for the family when you have the space in your own backyard. Try these creative water ideas:

  • Water blob: With only an iron, painter’s plastic, parchment paper and a tiny bit of duct tape, you’ll have something that will catch everyone’s attention. Learn how here.
  • PVC sprinkler: Create a PVC pipe sprinkler by connecting pipes to your desired size and then drilling small holes to allow for water to spray through. Hook up your sprinkler and sit back as the kids (and even adults) keep busy.

9. Make an outdoor arcade.

Lawn games are one of the best parts of the summer season. The open space of a backyard makes it a great place to get gaming. Next time you have a full house, break out these arcade ideas:

  • Lawn Twister: By simply spray painting colored circles on your lawn, you are able to mimic a traditional Twister game.
  • Oversized Tic Tac Toe: Have a lonely tree stump in your yard? Use it to paint a tic tac toe board! Then, find similar-sized rocks and paint them to match a theme for each component (ex. ladybugs and bees.) No tree stump? Paint grass, chalk your patio or find any other flat space.
  • Midnight bowling: Fill plastic bottles and a clear hamster ball with glow sticks, set up your ally and start rolling.

10. Keep it free of clutter.

With all of these backyard ideas, the items in your backyard can pile up quickly and with extra stuff comes clutter.

“Keep toys and garden tools in containers that can be used for other purposes,” Becky Rapinchuk from Clean Mama says. “A bench on a patio that can also hold cushions or toys is a great idea.”

Not enough room to store all your backyard essentials? A storage unit offers plenty of space and may be the right move for you. Uncle Bob’s offers free truck rentals to help you get started.

What are some of your favorite backyard ideas? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @LifeStorage.

About the Author

Grace Gerass

I love to share all sorts of DIY and home decor tips with my readers here at the Life Storage blog.

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