When the winter is over, the backyard begins to call. It may be looking a little sad after all that rain and cold, but there is plenty you can do to brighten it up. Those sunny days are too precious to waste, so you want your yard to be as inviting as possible for all the things you can do there.
Indoor Games Outdoors
Your backyard is bigger than your living room, but that doesn’t mean you need to play different games. Just make large scale versions of your favourite indoor games and set them up outside. That way there is no excuse for sitting indoors on a decent day.
Make a giant Jenga set by cutting a length of timber (2×4 is ideal) into lengths about 10 inches long. The more you can make the better. Smooth down the surfaces and paint the ends to make a great game that any number can join in with. When it collapses, it really collapses.
Paint a big sheet with coloured blobs to make an extra big twister. With more space and more blobs you can increase the number of people playing at the same time.
Fun for the Kids
Have your kids got a sandpit to play in? If you have room, build a simple pit out of planks, line it and fill it with play sand. If you live near a farm see if you can beg a discarded tractor tyre; they make ideal pits.
When your kids are old enough to camp, but not quite old enough to go away by themselves, camping in the backyard can be a great first step. You don’t even need a proper tent – a waterproof sheet over a sturdy line will be a good start, at least for pretend camping.
Fun for All Ages
Nobody grows out of a good water-fight, so turn your yard into a water park and invite your friends round. If you have a suitable slope you can rig up a water slide with a hosepipe and a plastic sheet. Fill balloons to make water bombs. Get some serious water pistols, and mix food colouring into the water to set up a competitive atmosphere. If you are worried about your garden furniture, good quality rattan furniture of the sort you get from Enfield-based supplier Bridgman will withstand all the water you can throw at it. Find out more from Bridgman here.
When did you last go to an outdoor movie? It is easy enough to have your own if you can lay your hands on a projector. All you need is your DVD player, amp and speakers, a big white sheet and an extension lead. There is something magical about watching a movie under the stars, so invite your neighbours.
Make your backyard pay its way by providing food for the table. Small beds and large pots can supply a range of good things. The best place to start is with a herb garden, as they pack the most punch in flavour from a small patch of ground. If you have got a little more space, outdoor tomatoes can be delicious, and blueberries are just one of the soft fruits you can successfully grow in a pot with very little maintenance.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of ways to eat and drink in your backyard. Yes, you could just carry out a tray of drinks and sit down to relax and enjoy them, but with a bit of effort, you could do much more.
A barbecue is an obvious way to entertain. If you don’t want to splash out on a big barbecue, it’s surprising what people find to turn into a barbecue, from a big flowerpot to an old wheelbarrow.
Brighten up your yard with some candles for an evening’s eating. You can fill plant pots with candle wax mixed with a little citronella oil to keep the bugs at bay.
If you are reasonably handy, you could really impress people by building your own table without the need for a lot of expensive tools. Follow this link to see how to build one which even includes its own built-in ice bucket for your cold drinks!
A World of Fun
Even with a small backyard, there is plenty that you can do to make it a constant source of pleasure for yourself, your family and your neighbours, throughout the summer months. A little imagination and a love for being outside will go a long way.
Louise Saunders always says her garden is her favourite room in the house! She has created a place of tranquil relaxation and enjoys spending her free time outside enjoying it.