11 Things Everyone Should Have Somewhere in Their Backyard

published Aug 1, 2023
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A backyard is one of those all-American goals. You dream of having a space to gather friends, grow a garden, and run around with your dog. But if you’re a first time homeowner or renter, you may open your back door to reveal an empty patch of grass that needs some attention before it can become the relaxing retreat where you spend every evening. There are plants that need tending and entertaining spaces to create. There’s weeding to be done and birds and bees to feed. So whether you have a green thumb and can’t wait to dig in the dirt, or you’d prefer to focus on the yard games and accessories that will make your house the place to be on the weekends, here are the 11 things everyone should have somewhere in their backyard.

1. Native Plants or Pollinator Flowers

You’ve probably heard about the push towards more native gardens, where plants and flowers that are native to the area are prioritized over creating a curated collection of imported species. Not only is this better for the environment because it means you’ll spend less time watering and adjusting soil, as these plants are already adapted to your climate, but it’s also generally better for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. You can also pick up a mix of pollinator flower mix to scatter throughout your yard.

2. Herb or Vegetable Garden

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, use that space to save money on your grocery bill! Plant a variety of herbs and vegetables that you use regularly — or wish you used regularly — and you’ll always have a harvest at the ready. Focus on plants that will grow easily, like mint, thyme, or tomatoes, to feel like you have the greenest thumb on the block. Build raised beds or splurge on premade raised beds if you want to be able to better control the soil conditions.

3. Fire Pit

A fire pit in your backyard will instantly transform your home into the place everyone wants to hang out (so think about that carefully before you decide to spring for one!). You can either build one into your yard with bricks or stones, or you can opt for a portable fire pit that you can move around your backyard, front yard, or wherever else you want to add campfire ambiance. Don’t forget the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for s’mores.

4. Hammock

Nothing says relaxation like kicking back in a hammock with a good book on an ever-so-slightly breezy afternoon. It’s a nostalgic experience that makes you feel like you don’t have a care in the world (except figuring out how to get back out). There are portable options you can take with you wherever you go, or you can commit to a classic hammock that will live in place in your backyard.

5. Shade

Whether you’re serious about sun protection or want to use your backyard even through the height of summer, providing shade of some sort is critical. A big tree is great, but hard to immediately manifest if you currently have a tree-less backyard. Instead, spring for a shade sail or DIY one yourself.

6. Yard Tools

For those going from city living to having your own backyard, the prospect of all that green space is exhilarating. But it also comes with weeding and maintenance — which can be new territory if your previous yard experience consisted of a few potted plants. There are various tools that can make the job easier, including a rake, shovel, hoe, and more. And, yes, you probably also need a lawn mower.

7. Storage

Once you’ve invested in all the backyard tools and toys, you’ll need somewhere to keep everything to protect them from the elements. A small storage shed is a worthy investment to make to ensure you don’t end up with rusted tools and faded items. You can even buy the pieces to DIY your own.

8. Bird Feeder

Having a backyard is the first step in realizing you’re starting to recognize bird species. Next thing you know, you’re pointing them out by name. Then you’re whipping out your binoculars in the hopes you’ve witnessed a rare sighting. Make it easier on yourself by bringing the birds to you with a bird feeder. There’s a DIY option even if you don’t have trees.

9. Splash Pool

A permanently installed backyard pool is a dream — and it doesn’t have to be big. But you can also make do with a collapsible, portable option. Grab an old-school foldable pool, fill it up with a hose, and your backyard is ready for a summer pool party.

10. Yard Games

Who doesn’t love a yard game? Whether you have an hour after work in the evening or plan on having friends over for a barbecue, they set the stage for a fun backyard. Some favorites include corn hole, bocce ball, croquet, or even a childhood favorite, toss and catch.

11. Solar Lights

Light the way to your splash pool or shed, or even add a twinkly ambiance to your backyard with solar lights. They’re inexpensive and easy to simply stick into the ground, and they make it feel like you hired a professional landscaper.