Fun & creative backyard upgrades


Whether it’s installing a decorative paver patio or putting in new landscape plants, upgrading your backyard transforms it with new features and uses. If you’re bored with what you see when you look out the window into your yard, plan to make some creative changes. Instead of just a concrete patio and expanse of green turf, think about adding whimsy, changing the size and scale, or bringing your favorite vacation scene to your outdoor space with these upgrades that will change how you use your backyard.

Bring on the Birds & Bees

Gardeners and wannabe farmers will appreciate a backyard upgrade that adds some feathered and flying creatures to the mix. Bring some winged activity to your backyard landscape with chickens and bees. After checking local ordinances, plan where to place a chicken coop and beehives. You can make your own or buy some all ready to set up. Choose a round-windowed hobbit hole coop, a chicken tractor, or a chicken coop with a green roof from Williams Sonoma. Start your beekeeping career with easy non-sting mason bees and a cute mason bee house or go right to honey bees and a top bar hive. With fresh eggs, pollinators for your veggie and flower garden, and maybe some honey, you’ll get double duty out of these upgrades.

Build a Beach

Did you enjoy that beach vacation with sun and sand? Why not create a permanent vacation spot in your backyard with your own personal beach? If you already have a natural pool or pond installed, adding a beach may be as simple as hauling in a load of sand to spread along the shore. If you don’t have the water feature, you can copy Sunset garden coordinator Bud Stuckey and create sand dunes in a corner of your yard with decomposed granite topped with sand. You may want to rent digging equipment to move sand and granite to create low and high spots in your setting. Set the scene with dune grasses, a hammock or beach chair and beach umbrella.

Go Big

Tired of plain lawn and bushes when you step out your back door? Try a real change of scenery by creating a large-scale landscape with giant alliums, giant hostas and giant sunflowers. You’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland when you step outside amid the large, purple globe-shaped allium flowers atop tall stalks, huge hosta leaves and towering sunflowers.

Add some giant lawn games like Scrabble, Bananagrams or Twister. You’ll have a summer playground to delight everyone. Use oversize dowels or broom handles and hula hoops for a ring toss. Get creative and recreate your favorite board games for the lawn in large scale, including bean bag toss with a tarp stretched between two trees with cutouts, your version of the matching game with cardboard or cork tiles or giant Jenga with one-by-two pieces of lumber. Use long dowels for pick-up sticks, or create a life-size chess or checkers game.



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