Looking for great ways to make the most of your backyard? You can create an environment with space for you, your kids and your pets to enjoy, and also be inviting to hardworking pollinators. Balance everyone’s interests so your own home provides an outdoor haven for all.
Functional zones. When deciding how to establish your backyard haven, consider your goals for functionality. As Bob Vila points out, no matter how great the yard looks, if the space doesn’t support its purposes nobody will use it. You can make your yard functional and beautiful by designing areas for various objectives, such as where you plan to cookout, where the kids will play, where the dog will blow off steam, your lounging zone, and your pollinator garden.
Work and play. When designing outdoor “rooms,” one idea is to structure a section the whole family can use. A multi-level deck with a pergola can mean a somewhat small area supports two functions comfortably on the separate levels. This is an effective solution if space is tight and you want to be able to grill steaks, play a board game, and rest after a hard day of yard work.
Kids-zone. Seeking hours of entertainment for the kiddos? Look to traditional play equipment like seesaws and swings. To economize space and still dedicate areas, HGTV suggests putting a curtain around your dining area. It allows you to keep tabs on the kids while still enjoying grown-up conversations. Another concept is multifunctional play equipment. A few pillows and pads on a trampoline gives kids the chance to laze in their own space without using additional room in your backyard.
Classic rest and relaxation. Within your backyard design should be a place for your own respite away from the demands of your gardening, kids and pets. Think in terms of a spot to soak up a summer breeze, rest with a good book, and listen to the birds. Keep the space as relaxing and tranquil as possible. Set up a well-made hammock to leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. Add pillows and pads to enhance the comfort of your hammock. Once you take time to enjoy your outdoor hammock, you’ll be the envy of your stressed-out neighbors.
Fill the air with an aromatic, soothing-scented vine like jasmine. As a bonus, jasmine is nontoxic for pets, so if you share space with Fido and Fifi you can do so worry-free.
Speaking of pets. In addition to selecting plants that are nontoxic, your backyard can provide amenities that are Fido-friendly. In doing so you also make the space more inhabitable for you, your kids and visiting birds and bees. For example, The Bark suggests installing a water feature to ensure your pooch can stay hydrated. The trickle of a fountain is a soothing sound, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the pollinators it draws as well.
You may also want to build a fence around your property to prevent your pet from becoming a neighborhood nuisance. Installing a fence typically averages $4,500, but this will vary based on the size of your fence and materials used. Visit sites like Angi to find reputable fencing contractors, along with reviews and customer testimonials.
Some experts suggest another great addition everyone can enjoy is a shady tree. A chance to get out of the sun can keep your dog more comfortable while still allowing him to socialize with the family, and wildlife like birds and rabbits also appreciate the retreat. If the family feline is looking for an outdoor place to play, consider a few cat-friendly features as well, such as outdoor scratching posts made of vertical logs and a patch of catnip.
Pollinator paradise. Many pollinator-friendly plants are native species, making them hardy choices for your landscape. As a bonus, several are also culinary herbs, so you might want to set up your pollinator garden close to the kitchen. Several garden options we enjoy are also perfect for pollinators. For instance, newly emerged butterflies need a place to dry their wings, and an ornamental boulder is an optimum spot. However, understand that caterpillars need specific plants for their development and you should be alert to plant placement.
If you choose to plant lantana for future butterflies, note it’s toxic to pets and should be in a location Fido can’t access. Hummingbirds are also great pollinators and are drawn to trumpet-shaped blooms, or you can install a feeder with a sugar-water solution.
Many of us want a harmonious and balanced lifestyle. Your backyard can be a boon toward that aspiration. Create comfortable zones for you, your children and pets, as well as local pollinators.
Taking a hiking, camping, or adventure trip? Visit Gotta Get Outside for customized gear checklists and outdoor planning information!
Guest Contributor: Henry Moore
Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler.com. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.