Its springtime and those of you with backyards may be regretting the big lawn that seemed like a great idea initially, but now demands constant care and mowing. Backyards can be a real boon when you make them work for you. Here are a few great ways to get the most out of your backyard this summer.
If you build it, they will come—so make sure your backyard is optimized for entertainment. While a barbecue grill is an essential ingredient, make the backyard somewhere you want to spend time by adding a picnic table or a gazebo. Put up a volleyball net or create a mini-golf course for hours of family fun. A small splash pool, sauna or a hot tub will be a hit with friends and family members or set out lounge chairs where you can stargaze at night and relax during the day. Add birdbaths and feeders to your backyard to attract a variety of birds or plant a butterfly-friendly garden. Make your backyard a place to share with friends, create wonderful family memories and get your kids moving.
Whether you clear a patch to grow your own vegetables, create a container vegetable garden or build raised beds for your crops, you can grow more than enough vegetables for your family with a surprisingly small amount of work and space. This can be an enormously rewarding exercise, it can save you money and it can provide you with a source of organic fruits and vegetables.
Ditch the lawn
When it comes to your backyard, working smarter, not harder is the key. Every year in the US, 800 million gallons of gas are used to mow lawns and this contributes 5% of the county’s greenhouse gases. Large lawns are unsustainable and are increasingly being replaced by low-maintenance ground covers. There are many varieties of ground cover that are as hardy as grass and require no mowing and very little maintenance. There are many varieties of perennial ground covers that are suitable as a lawn replacement including alyssum, tapien (verbena), cotoneaster, bishops weed, juniper, dwarf dogwood and herbs like thyme and oregano. The latest craze in alternative lawns is microclover.
If you’re not ready to get rid of your lawn, at least consider reducing its size. Add some shrubs and pathways or some paving and walkways that provide interesting features too. Use stepping stones (you can even make your own), pebbles, stones or wood to create pathways. You can also build a little garden pond which runs off a solar-powered pump.
Use your backyard space to create compost which you can use as an organic and environmentally-friendly way of nourishing your garden and lawn. Get the most out of your backyard space by adding a couple of features and making it a place where you want to spend more time.