What better time than summer, when you’re spending more hours in the fresh air, to take your outdoor living space to the next level?

“Upgrading your backyard doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on fancy furnishings or lavish greenery,” notes Gordon Hitz, owner of Hitz Fence Supplies. A few tweaks, a DIY project, or an investment in just one area can significantly boost yard appeal.

Here are key ways to improve your outdoor area this summer.

15 ways to upgrade your backyard this summer

1. Downsize the Stuff.

Go through the pile of kids’ bikes, gardening tools, or extra plant pots lingering in the corner of your backyard. Sell or give away what you no longer use; then arrange the remaining goods in an easy-to-find way. Find a storage unit to store seasonal or occasional-use items like snow blowers, skis, boots, and tools to make even more room.

2. Shine Up Areas.

“A simple deck cleaning can be enough to give your space the face lift it needs,” says Hitz. Also scrub chairs, tables, and other furniture in eating spots.

3. Look at Plants.

Pull up dead bushes, trim overgrown shrubs, and get rid of any weeds. Consider putting in a vegetable or herb garden for homegrown produce.

Contemporary Homes

4. Bring in Color.

“A well-placed pot of gorgeous, brightly colored blooms goes a long way to making a yard look and feel like summer,” says Bonny Ford, president of FurnishMyWay, LLC.

5. Add a Path.

If your backyard has no dividing point, put in a pathway with stones, gravel or sand. Use the trail to mark specific areas of the yard, such as a garden, play area, and dining spot.

Walkway on green grassy in park

6. Invest in Furniture.

Comfortable patio chairs, a table, and even a storage box can all help make the space more inviting and guest-ready.

7. Light Up a Fire Pit.

“Fire pits are typically built from landscape blocks, also called retaining wall blocks,” explains RJ Lamb, owner of Lambs Lawn Service and Landscaping. If you opt to put one in on your own, begin with a solid base of gravel that has been compacted.

Firepit

8. Think of Movement.

“Add a great porch swing into your patio to help make it feel more cozy and summer-ready,” suggests Ford. When sorting through designs, keep in mind that pillows will add extra comfort.

9. Add Water.

Create a mini pond, put in a column fountain, or build a small waterfall to bring tranquility to your outdoor living space.

Solar fountain

10. Keep Bugs Away.

“One of the biggest deterrents to hanging out outside can be bugs,” notes John Liston, manager of strategy and operations at Hello All Set. “Invest in deterrents early in the season to establish your yard as a no-fly zone.”

11. Make Room for Guests.

If you need more space for people to walk or sit, think about turf pavers, suggests Ford. If you’re not well-versed in laying concrete, you’ll want a professional to take on the job.

12. Shine Some Lights.

Wrap string lights around tree trunks to create a soft glow for a summer get together. Or install new light fixtures around a deck or patio to give your eating area a new look for summer.

Four people dining in yard at dusk

13. Set Watering Routines.

“Smart sprinkler systems can make watering a breeze and allow you to easily control your watering schedule,” explains Sage Singleton, a home maintenance and safety specialist from SafeWise.

14. Give Beverages a Place.

“You can either purchase or DIY a nice little drink bar to take your outdoor summer parties to a whole new level,” suggests Ford.

15. Fix the Fence.

It may only need a cleaning, but if your fence is missing a few rails, is coming loose, or has chipped paint, taking the time to carry out repairs will make the perfect backdrop to your yard.

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Rachel Hartman