Turn Your Backyard Into A Dining Oasis
With winter in full swing and cabin fever setting in, there is no better time to begin planning your dream backyard dining setup. Whether you want to roast hot dogs around a crackling fire and watch movies with your family or wow your guests with your grilling skills and DIY ingenuity, these backyard dining enhancements will be sure to turn your boring lawn into a great place to host a picnic!
While a full backyard kitchen is quite an investment, some of the same benefits can be gleaned from getting a simple grilling station. Having one on standby allows you to spend your time entertaining guests instead of preparing food in the kitchen or running back and forth for plates, grilling utensils, wood chips, and cutlery. It could also give you a space to place a propane burner for cooking sides! A bigger grilling station, perhaps with a locking door, could store items like tablecloths, torches, tablewear, and a dedicated outdoor Bluetooth speaker. Put the grilling station on wheels to make winterizing your outdoor dining space a pinch. Whether you purchase it at a store or make it a DIY project, you’ll wish you had a grilling station sooner!
A fire pit can turn any clear-yet-cool night into a perfect night for entertaining, softening and warming the mood for your dinner party. Making s’mores or roasting corn over your campfire is also a great ‘staycation’ activity to mimic a relaxing evening on a camping trip without all the work. There are hundreds of DIY or in-box options for fire pits too, some more extravagant, others quite simple. Be sure to buy or gather bone-dry wood for your stove to prevent babysitting the flame all evening!
What could be more essential to a backyard picnic than a place to sit and eat! Perhaps you have a simple picnic bench in mind, some of which are more than adequate enough to seat multiple adults comfortably. If you find benches stiff and uncomfortable, late summer is generally the best time to pick up a patio set for the cheapest prices.
Consider also creating a few spaces besides the dinner table for guests to linger around your backyard. Benches can be built around trees for some natural shade in summer. Having a free-standing porch swing or hammock by a fire pit, pond fixture, or flowering shrub will foster a relaxing, conversational tone for your parties. Adding some vintage pillows or blankets makes a comforting nook for napping or reading.
From patio umbrellas to pagodas, having some shelter in your backyard opens up more opportunities to eat dinner outside. Pop-up awnings can provide shade from the sun and sufficient cover from rain to keep you, your guests, and your food dry. Depending on the size and shape of your yard, you could build a permanent shelter or purchase a simple pop-up canopy. String up some lights, fabric, or paper lanterns in your tent or patio space to give it your personal touch.
Cultivating the right mood for your backyard will make eating outside an obvious choice when the weather is warm. Lighting will likely become the biggest mood-setting factor. Hang some outdoor string lights from a tree or patio area, or put some small battery operated ones in a few mason jars. Solar lights along pathways are a practical choice to keep your guests from tripping and spilling their plate. Torches could be a fun alternative if your yard is already well-lit, and there are quite a few types ranging from simple and traditional bamboo to ornamental tabletop versions.
If you have a laptop or gaming console, and a projector, a projector screen opens up a variety of novel backyard experiences during and after dinner — video games, entertaining the kids with movies, watching the big game, all outside!
Don’t let bugs ruin your meal! Insect-repelling candles made of citronella or geraniol can double as lighting features and protection from mosquitoes. Don’t forget yellow jacket traps to prevent unwanted guests from buzzing around your food. For a more permanent solution, look for a bug screen for your porch or shelter.
With these ideas in mind, take a good look at your backyard and your budget and decide how far you want to go! Making a simple, comfortable eating space doesn’t have to be complicated. If the cold weather is getting you cranky, start working on some DIY projects now and you’ll be enjoying outdoor meals on those warm summer nights before you know it.