The great escape… It’s as close as your own backyard

It’s summer, so pick your passion. Whether you enjoy grilling burgers, chilling out with a book, counting fireflies at twilight, or growing flowers, backyards beckon.

Stir up a seaside theme for summer dining by displaying beach-related décor. All images by Diane Morey Sitton.

The best part, the promise of summer fun extends beyond patios, porches, and poolsides. Whether large or small, sun-basked or shade-steeped, with some planning and creativity, almost any backyard can be transformed into a summer getaway.

Enjoy the backyard view from under a canopy. String lights and a water feature add to the allure.

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Start with sunny spots. Pop-up canopies and gazebos provide instant garden rooms. Furnish them with chairs, tables, an outdoor rug, and a portable fan. For a special occasion, add colorful curtains. In large backyards, create shade and cool down the temperature by fastening ready-to-hang shade sails between trees, walls, or posts. Umbrellas, too, create instant, shady retreats. Unfurl them over tables for outdoor dining, or position them between two chairs.

Transform a tiny yard into a festive getaway with container plants and a bright umbrella.

In shady backyards, suspend a hammock between two trees or from a hammock stand. Put a large shade tree to work by dangling a hammock swing or a cocoon chair from a lower branch. Where kids are present, be the hit of the neighborhood by making a tire swing. Hang it vertically or horizontally, then add to the fun by watching the kids paint it. Exploit the shade further by constructing a mini-patio just large enough for a café table, glider, or chaise lounge. Construct the patio floor using square stepping stones or recycled bricks.

Want to transform a small space into a summer retreat? Fill it with a hammock and flowering plants.

As you plan your backyard getaway, think about color. Use red, blue, or orange cushions to brighten chairs, swings, and chaise lounges. Expand the color theme with an umbrella or shade sail of the same hue. Create a festive mood by using several colors, or keep your surroundings fresh and cool with a green and white duo.

Create a backyard hideaway with a glider, table, and pots of flowering plants.

Flowers enrich the color palette even more, and they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Best of all, by planting flowering plants and vines in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, tubs, troughs, and planter boxes, you can enjoy beautiful blooms in backyards of all sizes, shapes, and degrees of sunlight. Summer sun-lovers include periwinkle, zinnia, marigold, geranium, and moss rose. Impatiens and begonias thrive in shady spots.

Add deck appeal with container-grown plants.

Like flowering plants, water features ramp up backyard appeal. Consider installing a fountain, stream, or waterfall. Plant a small water garden in a galvanized tub. On small decks and patios, display a cascading tabletop fountain. Birds, too, enjoy water features and will visit water-filled saucers, misters, and drippers.

The presence of water seems to cool summer landscapes, and the sound of burbling water is music to the ears.

For evening, nothing dresses up a garden faster or easier than string lights. Stretch them overhead across patios, wrap them around posts and handrails, attach them to garden umbrellas, or drape them in trees and shrubs. Or hire a professional lighting engineer to install lovely landscape lighting high up in your trees. It’s like having a full moon 365 nights out of the year!

A country-themed chair surrounded by container plants invites quiet backyard time.

But don’t stop now. After thinking canopy, color and charm, it’s time to think comfort. Keep insects at bay by using the appropriate deterrents. Furnish outdoor spaces with fans. Load an ice-filled cooler or small tabletop refrigerator with water and cold drinks. Fill a basket with sun-screen and extra sunglasses.

It’s summer, so step outside and pick your spot—by a pool, under a shade tree, or in a hammock. A great escape awaits in your own backyard.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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