This summer will undoubtedly be different than summers past. While we might usually look forward to family gatherings, BBQ’s at friends’ houses, and cottage weekends, we will likely still be socially isolating to some degree. The thought of staying inside when it’s warm outside and the sun is shining can feel heavy. But if you have a backyard there’s so much possibility.
Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your backyard this summer.
Spice up your backyard, add colour, remove those dead old bushes in the back corner. If you plan to spend a lot more time in your yard than usual then treat it like another room in your home. How can you make it more comfortable and visually interesting? Try bringing more pillows and blankets outside to make it feel more like another living room. Add lighting for brightness and for ambiance so you can transition it from dinner space to lounging space by flicking a switch. Fairy lights and candles are great for this. To add colour, try a paint project. Painting a mural can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, and can add so much beauty to the backyard. It’s also a place where you can be a bit more bold and colourful than you might want to be inside your house. The wall of your shed, for example, would make a great canvas.
Here’s a very detailed WikiHow on how to paint a mural https://www.wikihow.com/Paint-a-Mural
Plant a garden
Not only does gardening help calm anxiety, give one a sense of purpose, and make you feel satisfied with what you have grown from the earth, but it can be a place to grow your own food. One thing I have learned from social isolation is that I miss having access to fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces available to me whenever I want them. Planting an edible garden is an engaging family activity that all can gain satisfaction from. Picking fresh food from the yard is an amazing feeling, and it tastes better when you grow it yourself. It can be an opportunity to play around with different herbs than you might typically cook with! Not only that, but you won’t have to make another trek out to the store, which can be a very stressful situation at this time.
Creating interactive games in your yard can be fun for kids of any age. For example, building a life-size checkers board using scrap materials. Pull some jugs and bottles from the recycling bin, clean them off, and set little hands to work on arts and crafts to create chess or checkers pieces. The same idea applies to a croquet course or lawn bowling. With a little creativity, you can bring to life games that the whole family will enjoy. There’s plenty of time to hold a family tournament!
Bar hopping (at home)
What if the members of your family are old enough to drink? There’s a trend I’ve seen on social media that looks like so much more fun than drinking a glass of wine on the couch. Set up different areas of your backyard like different types of bars. Get the snacks out, get the costumes out, get the wireless speakers out, and prepare for a really fun night. Set up a few stations to represent types of bars, like a margarita bar, a pub, or a wine bar. Put out snacks that represent each theme. And take turns hopping from one resto-bar to another. It might not be the same as meeting friends for a night out, but it can be a ton of fun, nonetheless.
How else can you make the most of your backyard during social isolation? Let us know in the comments.
Freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto. She is the author and photographer of two cookbooks, Everyone’s Welcome (2019) and Allergen-Free Desserts (2015).