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From Bleh to Boom – Revamp Your Backyard into the Perfect Retreat

Is your backyard just a little … well, disappointing?  You’ve probably stared at it plenty of times, lost in a daze of backyard fantasies.  No more daydreaming!  It’s time to finally make those fantasies a reality and create the perfect outdoor space for entertainment and relaxation.  After all, everyone deserves an outdoor space to look forward to after a long, hard week.  From cooking and dining spaces to hangouts, activities, and retreats, here you’ll find all of the inspiration you need to transform your lackluster outdoor space into the backyard oasis you’ve been yearning for.

Cooking and Dining Alfresco:

When the weather’s beautiful outside, why on Earth would you want to spend lunch and dinner sitting indoors?  Better yet, why would you want to get stuck cooking indoors?  Everyone enjoys cooking so much more when they can do it outside, enjoying the sunshine and a good breeze – and maybe a beer or two.  Plus, somehow, whenever you cook outside and set up a meal, it just seems so much more of an event. 

Creating an outdoor kitchen area, then, is really a major bonus for any backyard.  You don’t have to go super crazy to get the most out of it, either.  You can include a grill, an outdoor fridge to keep food and drinks cool, and a sink for easy cleanup.  Rather than simply sticking to a patio table and chairs, get a bit more creative with your dining area.  You could build a circular addition to your deck that provides built in seating, along with a ring of planters that can encircle you and your guests with colorful, lush plants.  Even consider screening in a portion of a deck, porch, or even pergola.


No backyard is truly complete without something fun to do and, no matter their age, everyone enjoys a good game.  Set up a bag toss game that can get everyone involved in the fun.  The great thing about bag toss boards is that you can pick one with a theme or design that fits your personal style or outdoor scheme, and even have it customized.  Don’t want the fun to end just because the sun goes down?  No problem, there are special add-ons for this that light the night, hold your bags & most importantly your beverages!

Speaking of rolling, another great option would be to set up a boules course.  Boules is kind of like bowling, but, instead of trying to knock down pins, each player tries to roll their ball as close as possible to a smaller target ball.  You could easily change up the game and create point pads where each player tries to roll their ball precisely to the spot they want for optimum points.


A backyard should certainly be about fun, but it also needs to be about relaxation.  For a secluded retreat, build a small garden house – about the size of a shed or small greenhouse – and keep the budget under control by using reclaimed material.  Salvaged windows and architectural details like old pediments or columns help to add an aged elegance.  Set up the space inside with a daybed, some container plants, a few little tables, and even strings of lights and a concealed radio to help lull you to sleep with your favorite soothing music.  Surround your garden house with layers of vegetation that alternate in height and size, and that include both flowering and non-flowering specimens for a wide range of interest.

For a similar effect with less of the effort and cost, find an area in your backyard near some trees and hang up a couple of sun sails to provide shady cover.  Hang up a hammock and set up a couple of garden chairs and a table.  Again, screen the area in using natural vegetation rather than erecting fencing or other obviously structural material.  You could build a natural arbor using old wood and grow a climbing rose (yellow roses are the best in the fragrance department).

If your fancy inclines more toward aquatic retreats, then you might think of installing a hot tub or pool.  You don’t have to go large with either of these, as something that at least allows you to cool off and relax will do the trick.  Create a winding path to your watery oasis that helps lend to the feeling that you’re journeying away from the hectic world outside and entering a true retreat.  You could also easily build a sunken chest to fill with ice and keep your favorite beverages cool and on hand.