This winter has been rough for many parts of the country. Cities across the East saw the lowest temperatures on record in the first weeks of 2018. It was so cold some people were blowing bubbles and watching them freeze instantly. By now, many of us are sipping hot chocolate, fantasizing about warmer weathers and long summer evenings spent outside.
For the apartment dweller
You’d trade 24/7 access to Chinese food for a backyard any day. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful outdoor space in your city apartment.
Buy some plants
If you want an oasis in the city, plants are a must. They’ve shown to improve mental health, lower blood pressure and make you more creative.
Build a structure
There are tons of ways to display your plants. You can repurpose a pallet or build a simple shelf to hold all those plants. It’s a great way to start creating a green wall while reserving floor space for people.
Buy a grill
Not all apartment buildings allow grills on the balconies, but if yours does, you should definitely take advantage. A cookout is a great excuse to bring friends together for a meal—and what’s the point of having a great space if you’re not going to share it?
Create a compact bar
Speaking of entertaining. Try creating your own compact bar area. You don’t need to get fancy, a simple drink cart would work. If you want to save even more space, you could go with this Murphy Bar idea from eHow. Your bottles and bartending supplies are safely tucked away in the cabinet. When you’re ready to start mixing and serving, the front of the cabinet drops down to form the bar section. A perfect solution for any tight space!
Get your lighting
You’ll feel like you’re in your own little world tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Plan your seating
Seating is a must whether you want to use your space for entertaining or for some solo relaxing. Remember to take into account your area’s climate. You might need to get something with a heavy-duty fabric that’s resistant to water and pollen. Or, you might want to avoid anything metal if your chairs will be exposed to the sun during warmer climates.
Once you have the big items out on your balcony, it’s time to put on the finishing touches, like a rug that really ties the room together. If you’re artistic, it might be a chalkboard where you can practice your art with beautifully designed, inspirational quotations.
For the gardener
Gardening is more than a hobby. It’s a workout, a meditation and an environmental statement all rolled into one. It only makes sense you start planning your next creation way before the first thaw.
Designate a space
It can be a plot that only measures a square foot, a collection of pots or your whole backyard. It all depends on the kind of time and other resources you want to dedicate to your garden. The ground might still be too hard to dig into, but you can certainly prepare by stockpiling soil, weed control fabric and fertilizer you might need.
Create your bed
If you already have a bed set up, choose a warmer day and head out there to pull up any dead plants that were left from last year. Getting that chore out of the way will make it a lot easier to get the garden together in one day after the last thaw in your area.
Choose your plants
Don’t rely on whatever looks the healthiest or is on sale at the hardware store. Plan ahead! You can even order some really beautiful heirloom seeds and start them inside. The result will be a truly unique garden with vegetables and flowers that would make your local farmers market jealous.
For the entertainer
From the Super Bowl to the 4th of July, whatever big event, your friends just know your house is the perfect venue. You love it and you’re constantly thinking of new ways to make your home even more fun and inviting.
Reinvent your dining areas
You’ll need an outdoor table to use as a gathering space for parties or for impromptu outdoor dinners. But, don’t sell your yard short. Think about how you can incorporate smaller breakout spaces with items like Adirondack chairs complete with side tables. These areas are great for small get-togethers, or when your party is so large that not everyone fits at the table.
Find a spot for the drinks
That might be a full-blown outdoor bar, a drink cart, or a cooler built right into your picnic table for storing sodas and beers. If you plan on leaving your supplies outside, just be sure you have a way to secure them to keep them out of the hands of children or thieves.
No backyard for the entertainer would be complete without, well, entertainment. If you’re a movie buff or sports fan, you might want to go with a digital projector that hooks up to your computer or smartphone. Don’t forget the retractable or inflatable screen to go with it!
For the parent
Let’s face it, you save a lot of money (and arguments about wearing shoes and coats) when you can spend the afternoon hanging out in your own backyard instead of going somewhere else. Here’s how to get ready for the ultimate kid (and parent) friendly backyard.
We all know that kids are a lot of fads and are monthly bestsellers. Many of their interests now don’t usually last until next summer.
Hence, think about how you can add temporary structures or activities to your backyard. These could be things like a soccer goal, basketball hoop or inflatable pool. All of them can be tucked away in the garage, sold or donated when they become less useful. This way, your kids can still have a great summer without turning your yard into a graveyard of past obsessions.
Prepare activities for downtime
Sure you want your backyard to tire your kids out. However, you also want to create a more intimate space where your family can relax and be together. A fire pit after the day’s activities is perfect for everyone to gather around, make S’mores and talk. Not only is it fun, it’s a great way to bond as a family and create summer memories that will last forever.
Where do your interests overlap?
Being a parent doesn’t mean you stop being a person who likes to have fun. Lawn games like Cornhole or Ladderball are great examples of games that you and your kiddos can enjoy.
So, if the winter blues have got you down, start planning your ultimate spring. It’ll soon be here before you even know it!
About the Author:
Kylee Della Volpe is a writer and editor for Mortgages.com.