Optimizing Your Yard for Outside Entertainment

Summer and fall offer the ideal seasons for outside entertainment. Warm days and cooler nights provide an ideal setting for nights on the porch, cookouts on the patio, and barbeques on the patio in your outdoor kitchen.

Wait. Do you say you don’t have those items already for hosting outside entertainment events at home? Never fear. We can help you plan the perfect yard for entertaining and none of the projects take too long to accomplish. Think in terms of two days to a week.

Let’s get started on the most essential hardscape, meaning man-made masonry or wood structure, in most yards. In areas with small yards, many homes only have a driveway for entertaining guests.

Repave Your Driveway

You’ll instantly boost the curb appeal of your home and provide yourself with an area for outside entertainment by repaving your driveway. This project requires an asphalt paving professional, also called a driveway contractor, to properly repave the driveway. Most cities require a permit for a driveway project.

Consider adding a design to the driveway, such as combing the cement or drawing in a swirl pattern. You can still park on it when needed, but it adds to the presentation of the yard. It also looks pleasing when you entertain since your driveway looks more like a patio.

Install a Pool

Above-ground pools install in a single day. Some take two days if you construct a deck around them. Many pre-fab above-ground pools exist, but if you want an in-ground pool, you’ll need to hire pool builders.

In-ground pools require excavation, liners, and sealing. Choosing an in-ground option offers you greater flexibility in design, so you can put in a serpentine pool or a round one although rectangle pools prove most common.

Add a Garden

Add a garden to your yard. If you only have a small yard, what many refer to as a postage stamp yard, consider window boxes. They take up no ground space and most local flower shops carry both the window sill attachments for them and a wide selection of plants ideal for them.

If you do have a medium- to large-sized yard, consider one or two garden plantings. These beds should add color to the yard and use plants that bloom for a few months at a time. A local plant nursery offers the ideal source for saplings and shrubs. Planting these, instead of starting from seed, provides you with instant curb appeal. Consider adding plantings to your front and back yards.

Trim Your Trees

Your existing trees need help, too. Hire an arborist to examine them and diagnose any diseases that may be present. Trees get sick, too. Sometimes weevils infest them, while other times, fungi or worms do. An arborist can help you heal some trees and determine when one needs removing to protect the health of the other trees since disease easily spreads among trees. An arborist also provides tree trimming services. This helps keep your trees healthy and ensures that branches don’t “attack” guests by hanging so low that people bump into them.

Install a Fence

Regardless of the size of your yard, installing a privacy fence makes it more enjoyable for general enjoyment and outside entertainment. Made of wood, resin, or masonry, privacy fences require a fencing company to install because few people have the skill set for posting, cementing, and constructing a privacy fence. A resin or wood fence requires carpentry skills, while a masonry wall, made of stone, cement, or rock, requires professional masonry training.

Installing a privacy fence of at least the standard height of six feet provides you and your guests the privacy you deserve. You enjoy your yard in peace, without prying eyes observing you as you do. Check with your city planning office to learn the maximum fence height you can install. Also, obtain any needed permits.

Install a Deck

Hire a deck building service to install a deck around your swimming pool or to add one to the rear of your home. A deck adds an outside entertainment space that you can use all year in many locations. Most deck builders offer many design options, including multi-level decks and wrap-around decks. Choose from their standard designs or have the designer at the deck company create a custom design for your home.

To create a deck ideal for outside entertainment, add an outdoor kitchen. This typically includes a sink, a food preparation area, and a cooking area with a barbeque pit, grill, or fully-featured stove. Deck designers work their design into the existing landscape. If you plan to change the landscape, let them know that when they begin designing.

Hire a Professional Landscaper

Get your yard ready for outside entertainment with the help of a professional landscaping service. A landscape architect works with you to create a unique design for your home that suits your yard uses. This may include shade trees, garden beds, planting alternative ground cover to replace grass, xeriscaping, adding hardscapes, or other options.

If you want to implement many of the suggested updates in this article, start with the services of a landscape architect. They can design a yard scape that integrates all of the items you want to add. This creates an overall plan for your yard.

What About Do-It-Yourself Projects?

Of course, while you create this perfect setting for outside entertainment, you likely want to do some of it yourself. If yard maintenance doesn’t provide enough of a challenge for you, then consider these simple tasks that help ready your yard for outside entertainment and do not require professional training to do.

Clean Your Roof’s Gutters

Your guests will not only admire your yard, but they’ll look at your house, too. Clean the roofing gutters by removing all leaves, twigs, and other debris. In some rather windy states, trash can also blow into roofing gutters, so remove it as well. Re-attach any loose roofing gutters. If your home does not already feature roofing gutters, have some installed? The installation isn’t a DIY project, but upkeep certainly can be.

Sweep and Mop the Deck or Patio

About an hour before your guests arrive for your soiree, sweep and mop the porch, deck, or patio. This gets it looking great for guests. Also, add this to the weekly list of things you do to keep your house looking great. Whether you will have guests or not, your outdoor living space should look great for you, too.

Rake Your Leaves

Keep your yard looking great by raking your leaves each week. Although leaf drop happens most frequently in fall, they drop off trees all year long. Raking the yard also clears it of twigs.

Mow the Yard and Edge It

With all the work you put into creating the ideal outdoor living space for outside entertainment, it makes sense to keep it up so it always looks great. Mow your yard once per week. Edge it, too. Every three to four weeks, trim the shrubs in your yard. You don’t need to shape them. Simply trim off errant limbs so they retain the shape the arborist created.

Water Your Lawn and Plants

The upkeep of your gorgeous landscape comes from regular maintenance by you (or your sprinkler system). Water your lawn every day if allowed by your city.

During dry spells and droughts, many towns and cities limit or ban watering. Most locations revert to an even/odd watering system. That means the households on the even-numbered side of the street water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while those on the odd-numbered side of the street water their lawns on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. No person waters on Sunday to allow the aquifer to recharge. Check with your local city planning office to learn of its rules and the watering schedule for your city or town.

If you stay rather busy, consider installing a sprinkler system that works on a timer. You can reprogram these during drought situations to conform to the city’s rules.

Some droughts require extreme vigilance on the part of the homeowner to keep the yard lovely. That’s because, in most severe droughts, cities ban hose and sprinkler watering altogether. They only allow watering cans to water. Although those situations occur rarely, even in drought-prone states like Oklahoma and Texas, you need to be ready for them.

Power Wash the House

There comes a time when your home needs a bath. If your siding seems dingy, it might only have dirt or pollen built up on it. While you could hire a power washing service in your area if you lack one in your area or that proves cost prohibitive, purchase a sprayer attachment that works with your hose.

Spray your home from top to bottom, starting with your roof. Roofs need cleaning, too. Small debris collects on them, as do leaves that don’t quite make it to the roofing gutters. Spray everything completely clean. Spray off the windows, too. Windows will also need a drying/buffing wipe with a clean rag. Without this final step, they’ll dry with spots on them.

Ready Your Entertainment System

When planning for outside entertainment, you need a sound system and perhaps a big screen for watching movies on the lawn. This doesn’t require anything complex or expensive, since the days of Sharper Image long expired.

Consider purchasing two to four Bluetooth speakers for your yard. Place one in each corner of the yard just before your event. You’ll bring them in at the event’s end so they don’t incur damage from the elements. This pipes your music to the entire yard, so you don’t need to blast it for everyone to hear it.

Rather than purchasing an expensive big-screen TV to wheel out onto the patio, consider a projection screen that works with mobile devices and laptops. These large screens play the feed of whatever you share from your cellphone or laptop. Many designs cost less than $200, some less than $100.

Light the Yard for Fun

You won’t need to run up your electric bill to use party lights as your parents’ generation did. Purchase solar string lights. For $10 to $20, you can purchase a 30-foot string of solar-powered string or lantern lights. Hang them in the yard year-round for a festive feel and a lovely, well-lit lawn.

Add solar stake lights to the edges of all pathways in the yard. Also, place solar step lights on each entryway step and the deck steps. This provides a visible guide for guests that helps prevent trip and fall accidents. Stake lights and step lights typically cost about $1 each. Because you can buy them separately, you can add them a little bit at a time, as your budget allows.

Reseal or Re-varnish Your Deck

If your home already features a deck, make it last longer and look great by adding sealant, varnish, or painting it. Sure, you probably had this done when you originally built the deck, but spruce it up by adding a fresh coat. This protects the wood and, in the case of varnish and sealant, makes it look shiny.

Spray the Yard for Bugs

Make your yard a comfortable, cozy space for entertaining by spraying the trees and lawn with outdoor bug spray. Choose an option from your local lawn and garden store or farm supply store that kills ticks, fleas, and chiggers. Some also kill gnats; everyone appreciates a gnat-free meal when dining outdoors.

Treat any anthills in your yard with ant killer a few days before your event. Double-check them on the day of the event to make sure new ants haven’t tried to set up a house in your yard. This protects everyone in the yard. At parties, people don’t look down to watch where they walk, they look up to see who they know and want to speak with, so doing this saves people from unnecessary pain from ant bites.

Purchase and Arrange Yard Furniture

Consider this your final task. Purchase tables and chairs designed for outdoor use. Set them up to form conversational areas on your deck and throughout your yard. Consider placing some deck chairs on the deck around the swimming pool.

If you plan to have family meals, choose at least two large tables, such as picnic tables. This type of table provides seating and two open ends. A person using a wheelchair can wheel up to the end of the table and dine normally with everyone else. Picnic tables offer an ideal design since their design includes seating for four to six people.

Get Your Yard Ready for Seasonal Entertaining

Getting your yard ready for outdoor entertaining takes some work, but the wonderful times with family and friends make it worth it. Readying your home for entertaining takes a combination of professionals and homeowner ingenuity, but you can create an amazing outdoor living area with a little time and effort.

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