As the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, it's only natural to want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Your urban backyard can become the haven you escape to at the end of a long workday or your favorite place to entertain guests. Turning a ho-hum backyard into one that's inviting, fun and relaxing doesn't have to cause you to go broke. These money-saving tips can help you create an outdoor living space that allows you to dine, socialize and relax in the backyard of your dreams by taking full advantage of sales, discounts, coupons and smart shopping.
Flexible Outdoor SeatingPatio dining sets can serve as comfortable seating areas before, during and after you eat. Take the time to shop around so you can find a patio set that provides you with flexible seating that functions both around and away from the table. Look for seasonal sales at home and garden stores or watch for gently used patio sets on Craigslist or at neighborhood garage sales. Your patio furnishings don't have to match to make your seating area look inviting and stylish. In fact, incorporating different colors, styles and textures lends well to the visual interest of your backyard and can reflect the fun atmosphere you're working hard to create.
Create Atmosphere on the CheapAmbiance and atmosphere are created by the addition of patio and garden decor and lighting. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on expensive patio lighting, you can create lighting that gives your patio or garden a magical, romantic kind of feel. Purchase white Italian lights at your local party store or online at a discount craft site and hang them over your patio to create a warm and inviting atmosphere all summer long. If you have small trees in your backyard or large potted trees near your patio you can string lights on them as well to create a soft, warm glow throughout the yard.
Divide Your Space for Maximum EnjoymentWhether your backyard is large or small, dividing the space into different areas encourages your guests to mingle and have fun while spending time in your yard. Even a small, room-sized space can be divided into an eating area and a table game area. Later, after everyone's finished dining, store chairs away and use your tabletop as an open bar and the rest of the area for dancing. Connect your MP3 player or smartphone to a speaker system purchased at an overstock discount to provide you with inexpensive audio entertainment.
Backyard EntertainmentThrift stores, such as Goodwill, can be an effective way to save money on backyard entertainment. Find favorite games from your childhood or discontinued yard games from local department stores. Games and activities don't have to be expensive for your guests to have fun while playing with them.
Plan for Success
The updates and improvements you make to your backyard can be an investment that provides you with the return of years of fun and relaxation with family and friends. Take time to plan out your renovations ahead of time so you aren't caught off-guard by high-priced backyard furnishings, decor or entertainment. Planning ahead allows you to take full advantage of sales, store closings and seasonal discounts. When you make your backyard improvement decisions before it's time to make the updates you provide yourself with the luxury of time and allow yourself to shop around, look for coupons and look for the best deals possible to help you achieve the backyard of your dreams.
Ashley Spade is a law student who lives in Chicago. When she isn't finding ways to have fun on a graduate student budget (aka nonexistent), she enjoys training for triathlons, home improvement/DIY projects, and hanging out with her sidekick Sir Winston Pugsalot, a mischievous pug. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @ashspade