Outdoor living spaces are growing in popularity, but for many people, the backyard is not the first place they’d think of as a potential entertaining space. With a little planning and work, however, an outdoor space can be so much more than a boring area that requires a lot of mowing.


Depending on the state of your yard, tackling the landscaping can be a weekend project or a major undertaking that requires the help of professionals. Before you jump into a major landscape renovation, spend some time thinking about how the space will primarily be used. Do you plan to do a lot of formal entertaining? Do you have pets and children who are itching for an open space to play? Do you want a restful, calming haven just outside your door? A good landscape design can accommodate all three of those instances or just one. In most cases, a nice spread of healthy grass will make up a large part of the lawn, and a landscape architect can recommend the best grass variety in addition to complementary plants and shrubs.

Outdoor Living

Outdoor living spaces add valuable square footage to a home, and homeowners can take advantage of the extra space to entertain. A grill, some outdoor kitchen components, and plenty of seating give family members and guests another area of the home to use for visiting. Features such as outdoor fireplaces, comfortable upholstered furniture, and attractive lighting add coziness to the space and encourage guests to make themselves at home. If the space is covered by a roof, even less-than-ideal weather won’t necessarily send you and your guests scurrying back inside. Outdoor living designs, however, don’t have to be complicated or involve major construction to your home. A large umbrella or even an arrangement of plants can provide protection from wind and strong sun, and chimineas and portable fire pits are affordable alternatives to outdoor masonry fireplaces.

Outdoor Entertainment

There is a wealth of options on today’s market for outdoor entertainment. A home basketball court or multisport court is a classic addition and an excellent way to involve both adults and kids in outdoor activities. Most home sport court builders offer regulation-size options as well as scaled down and custom-sized versions, but either choice represents a significant part of the average yard. If you have the space and budget, however, and a family who loves to play sports, a home sport court can be a worthy addition.

If your family is made up of movie buffs instead of sports fanatics, consider an outdoor home theater system. Your own movie theater under the stars gives you the ability to mimic the hard-to-find drive-in experience and provides entertainment for both parties and weeknight family time. At minimum, you’ll need a projector, a screen, and speakers. Although you can spend thousands of dollars on an outdoor home theater setup, that level of expense isn’t a must. There are plenty of affordable options that will still produce a quality experience. Before you start hosting weekly movie nights, however, it’s important to do your due diligence. Make sure that you understand—and adhere to—any noise regulations for your neighborhood, city, or county. Feel out your neighbors to determine if they’re likely to call the police the moment things get a little loud. Be careful about copyright laws and the sources of the films you screen. Generally speaking, you don’t need permission to invite friends over to watch a movie, but if you start inviting large groups and charging admission, you may run into a problem. When in doubt, screen movies that you own, keep gatherings free and on the small side, and invite your neighbors—it’s the nice thing to do, and at the very least, it will give them a heads-up about your plans.

The process of turning your home’s outdoor space into an entertaining paradise can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. Regardless of how much time you’d like to devote to such a project, however, take some time to think about how you and your family will primarily use the space. A little forethought will ensure that you get the most use and enjoyment out of the space. Then, make decisions as your schedule and budget allow.

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Sources: Better Homes and Gardens; Clemson University Cooperative Extension; Digital Trends; HGTV; House Beautiful.

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