When the days get longer and the weather (finally) starts to warm up, that means backyard grilling season is once again on the way. If you neglected your outdoor space over the winter, there’s still time to create the ultimate al fresco hangout spot for summer. From hosting friends for cookouts to creating a zen haven for maximum chilling, we’ve got 10 easy updates for your yard that you’ll enjoy well into fall.
1. Refresh Your Plant Game
If you’re outside, you should be surrounded by plants. That’s a given. Out with the old and in with the new this spring — re-up on planters and pots. Want to make the best use of your space while impressing dinner guests? Plant herbs you can use while cooking. A container on casters, like the Emsco Raised Garden Bed [$30], lets you easily scoot your crops to an optimal spot. If you’re new to gardening, go with easy-care options like basil and mint.
2. Get the Grill You’ll Want to Use
Any backyard worth its grass should be centered around a great grill. Go with a model that’s easy and fun to cook on. Many Char-Broil grills have TRU-Infrared cooking technology, which prevents flare-ups, makes food juicier and eliminates hot and cold spots to ensure a great cooking experience every time. These grills start with the push of a button and get hotter faster and more evenly than traditional gas grills. That means more cooking, better food and increasingly bigger crowds at your parties.
3. Bring the Inside Out (Not Literally)
You wouldn’t set up a living room without a couch, so don’t neglect your outdoor furniture. Pick up adequate tables and chairs for hosting and set up multiple zones to hang out in throughout your yard. Your guests will thank you for not getting splinters or standing awkwardly with a plate in one hand and a drink in the other. The Modern Contemporary 5-Piece Black Metal Dining Set with Faux Wood and Stackable Chairs [$525] works in a small space.
4. Level Up Your Cookouts
Throwing a few wood chips on the grill is an easy way to bring new flavor to your grill game — but don’t just start grabbing sticks off the ground. Pick up a bag of seasoned wood chips or chunks from Char-Broil to infuse your poultry, beef, lamb or pork with flavor.
5. Do a Temperature Check
You’ve got a TRU-Infrared grill, so it’s time to take your cooking to the next level. If you’re doing lots of chicken, pork or large pieces of meat you’ll want to make sure you’ve got it cooked just right before raising a glass. Pick up the Char-Broil Instant Read Digital Thermometer [$20] to make sure your masterpiece in the making is right where you want it to be.
6. Set Up a Permanent Incognito Stereo System
When the soundtrack of nature isn’t enough (or you’re ready to turn it up with some friends) you’ll need to a backyard sound system. Instead of lugging the same speakers from your living room, pick up a weather-ready outdoor set. Better yet, get a pair that resemble rocks, like the MartinLogan ML-75R [$450 each] to keep your friends guessing (and from taking over DJ duties).
7. Invest in Mood Lighting
Save the twinkle lights for the holidays–torches are the way to go for a barbecue. The TIKI Brand Adjustable Flame torch [$20] has a knob control so you can adjust the height of the flame. Buy a few to place on your table, or position them around your yard, using the pole included with each. Fill ‘em with BiteFighter Torch Fuel [$13] to keep the mosquitoes away.
8. Everyone Loves a Hammock
This is a fact. Pick one up now and enjoy watching the clouds roll by until the stars come out. Bonus points for picking out a camping hammock and spending the night outside. The Vivere Double Hammock With Space-Saving Stand [$90], in your choice of fabric, is made of sturdy steel, has space for a friend and assembles without tools. Plus, no need for two perfectly spaced trees!
9. Get Your Game On
Make sure you save space for when things get competitive. There are backyard games to suit every level of athleticism (still waiting on Spikeball to hit the Olympics) but if you’re looking for a low impact, casual game, look no further than the forefather of bowling: bocce. Franklin Sports 100mm Bocce Ball Set [$70]
10. Keep the Bugs at Bay
Nothing can kill the mood faster than a swarm of mosquitos, but there’s a lot you can do to keep them out of the party. Make sure there’s no standing water, for instance, or spark up a citronella candle. Better yet, put out a few bird feeders, like this Castella Tube Bird Feeder [$61]. You’ll welcome winged visitors and they love to snack on bugs, a win-win.