Do you consider yourself the emcee of outdoor events in your social circle? Maybe you love inviting your friends and family members over for a romantic evening under the stars, a formal dinner party or just a lazy summer afternoon. Or maybe you’d love to pack guests into your backyard for an extraordinarily ritzy affair like the Great Gatsby.
Regardless of how you like to entertain, as the host, you need to have the right equipment in your backyard if you’re going to keep everyone on your guest list comfortable. From fire pits to pergolas, you can transform a modest piece of property into an outdoor oasis filled with fun activities, indulgent luxuries and some truly elegant designs. Consider these backyard add-ons to become the host with the most.
The fire pit has become an integral part of the outdoor experience for many homeowners. Kind of like the TV in your living room, the fire pit tends to be the main attraction of any outdoor space, pulling your guests in like planets around the sun. As your party extends into the evening, the fire pit becomes your main source of light, allowing the fun to continue late into the night. You can also utilize your outdoor space well beyond the warmest months of the year with a fire pit. The warmth from the crackling fire adds to the appeal of your backyard in the spring and fall, helping you get the most out of your outdoor space.
Choosing the Right Type
New propane fire pits let you start and stop a fire with the flip of a switch. You don’t have to worry about buying or cutting firewood. And you can focus on entertaining your guests instead of having to build a fire in the middle of your party, as the sun is going down. Yet propane fires don’t give off nearly as much heat as a regular wood fire, so you might need to add some outdoor space heaters to keep your guests warm.
Wood fire pits come with plenty of benefits. Your guests may appreciate the wild, organic smells and sounds that come from a traditional wood fire. You can also use them to prepare meals outside instead of heating up your grill. While collecting wood might seem like a pain, you might actually enjoy the tactile process of making a fire from scratch.
Choosing Your Materials
There are lots of ways to build and design a fire pit for your backyard. We tend to associate fire pits with brick circular casings, but this isn’t your only option. You can use steel or tile if you want to create a more modern-looking fire pit. Your new backyard addition doesn’t have to be round either. You can create fire pits of all shapes and sizes, depending on the overall flow and look of your property.
Choosing the Right Location
Your fire pit will be the main social hub of your backyard, so it’s important to find a location that can accommodate a lot of people with ample seating. A fire pit makes a nice centerpiece for your backyard, but if you have enough space to work with, you can create an area off to the side. It’s important to keep your pit away from trees and awnings so the sparks don’t accidentally set off a fire.
Functional and flexible, the pergola makes a welcome addition to your backyard space. Unlike gazebos and screened-in decks, pergolas go with the flow. They’re usually open on all sides, so your guests can move freely throughout the space. Because they’re not limited to a single entrance or exit, they’ll help create a more fluid party experience. But pergolas are also functional. You can find a structure with open slats that let in plenty of natural light, or you may prefer those with a closed roof if you need some extra protection and shade. If you’re hosting a party during the day, your guests aren’t going to want to sit baking in the sun for hours on end, so having some shade sources will help them feel more comfortable being outside.
Creating a Living Space Outside
Outdoor living spaces have become all the rage. Around 60 percent of homeowners taking on a landscaping project said they intend to add a patio, deck or terrace to their property. But when it comes to entertaining outside, it’s important to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible while still giving them an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air.
You can enclose the pergola to give your guests some reprieve from the mosquitos and flies. You can also add a slab of concrete under the pergola if you want to create a level surface for chairs and tables. If your property is on an incline, creating a flat section can help your guests feel more natural when navigating the space. You can also break up a vast expanse of grass in your backyard with rugs to make it more welcoming.
Finding the Right Location
Your pergola can be a natural extension of your property, much like a traditional deck or patio. Or you can create an outdoor room a few yards from the house to help break up the space if you have a lot of space to work with. If your guests have to walk a few paces to get to the outdoor living area, it creates a sense of remove from the rest of your property, helping your guests enjoy an outdoor retreat instead of just hanging out in a space that’s directly attached to your house.
BACKYARD POOL OR HOT TUB
Nothing says fun like a backyard pool or hot tub. Everyone loves splashing around in the cool water on a hot summer day or lounging in some fizzy bubbles as day turns into night. Whether you’re hosting your child’s birthday party or an elegant dinner party, having a pool nearby will encourage everyone to have a good time. And swimming is the fourth most popular activity in the U.S., so a pool is bound to be a crowd pleaser.
Pools aren’t just for swimming and splashing. You can entertain everyone with a round of pool games, poolside cocktails or some fun toys like inflatables and floating chairs. Having a pool gives you plenty of options as a host. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95 percent of homeowners who completed a backyard pool project said they have a greater desire to be at home, 90 percent felt a major sense of accomplishment and 80 percent have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.
Incorporating the Pool into the Rest of the Space
Your pool can be a natural extension of some of the other items on this list. Your guests will love the freedom to move from the pool to the patio to lounging out of the sun under the pergola. You might want to add a stone or cement pathway that connects your pool to some of the other areas of interest in your backyard like the patio or a grilling station. Chances are the pool will become your home’s main attraction, so you might want to start building up your backyard with the pool as your focal point.
Making the Pool Functional
You’ll also need to think about how your guests are going to enjoy the pool during different times of the day. You’ll need to add some lights, so people can enjoy the pool after the sun goes down. And you might want to add a place for people to hang out near the pool like an adjacent sun deck or patio area. Don’t forget about chemicals and equipment for cleaning the pool and accessories for winterizing your pool.
Sinking patios have become a hot trend in recent years. Putting your patio area a few feet below ground level can actually help the space feel more open. Your backyard will look more open because the space isn’t filled with a bunch of tables and chairs. The seating area will be dug into the ground, giving you an unobstructed view of your entire property. Adding a sinking patio also helps create a separate space for socializing with your guests, helping the space feel at once cozy and more dynamic.
Designing a Sunken Patio
You have a lot of options when it comes to designing a unique social area in your backyard. You can choose between a flat patio and an insert patio, depending on what kind of terrain you’re working with. You might want to choose an insert patio that’s dug into the side of a hill if you have a sloping backyard. You’ll also need to choose the right depth for your sunken patio. Too deep and your guests will start to disappear in the earth, and your patio becomes a cave. But too shallow and your sunken patio won’t look very sunken at all, which might not be the look you’re going for.
You can lead your guests into the space with a series of receding steps or a ramp. You can also add a border around the sides of the patio if you want to give your guests some extra privacy. This might come in handy if you like having a more private, intimate space in the middle of a larger area, or if you plan on throwing multiple events on your property at the same time. The border can double as additional seating if it’s at the right height.
Safety and Installation
Before you start digging, remember to be aware of any power or sewer lines that might be running through your property. Contact your local utilities to find out where these lines are located and how to avoid them. You also need to think about drainage and water flow. You don’t want your sunken patio to flood every time it rains.
The perfect complement to a pool or patio, the outdoor bar will make your backyard space feel complete. You’ll decrease your dependency on the house because so many of the things you need to entertain your guests will be right there in the bar — especially if you add a small refrigerator or freezer. You can store all your drink ingredients behind the bar so you won’t have to keep running inside every time someone needs a refill. This helps you and your guests more fully enjoy the outdoors, instead of keeping one foot inside in case anyone needs anything. You can add a line of elegant bar stools to give your guests plenty of room to hang out and get comfortable.
Blending in the Bar
Everyone is probably going to want a drink at some point when they’re hanging out in your backyard, so it makes sense to connect your outdoor bar to the pool or patio area. Your guests might not like having to trudge through grass every time they need a refreshment. You can create a cement or stone walkway or install your outdoor bar next to your pool or patio.
Power and Functionality
If you really want to have a functioning bar outside, you’ll need to bring some power and light to the space. You’ll need enough energy for a fridge, a freezer and some overhead lights. Some outdoor bars even have their own automatic dishwasher, eliminating the need to carry all your dirty glasses inside. You can have a separate set of glasses that live outside. You might also want to think about adding a gate or some type of security system to keep the bar closed and secure when you’re not mixing drinks because you might not want to leave your bar exposed to the elements all night or when you’re out of town.
There are so many ways to turn your backyard into a neighborhood party destination. With so many fun things to do and places to relax, your guests will feel right at home in your backyard. You can keep your guests entertained for hours on end without having to step indoors. Make the most of your outdoor space, create the dream backyard you’ve always wanted and use these additions to become everyone’s favorite host.