How to Make Your Backyard the Best Summer Hangout Spot

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Welcome to “Best Summer Ever,” your guide to making the most of the sunny season. Whether your idea of a perfect summer is embarking on epic adventures or blissfully doing as little as possible (preferably somewhere with good air conditioning), we’ve got you covered, because the best summer doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.

Summer is about to officially start, and that means it’s time to get your backyard into shape for the coming festivities. Every neighborhood has that one house with the banging backyard that’s comfortable, beautiful, and conducive to a chill party atmosphere—that one house everyone wants to be invited to. The secret to having the best summer hangout spot? Planning. You can’t just cross your fingers and throw something together. You have to make a plan and start executing it today if you want to have memorable hangouts all summer long.

Don’t worry, it’s not that hard—or even that expensive. All you have to do is supply comfortable seating, snacks and drinks, and some fun activities, and everyone will want to hang out in your backyard all the time. Just remember that with great power comes great responsibility; if you create the best summer hangout spot in the world, you’re obligated to share it with your friends and family on a regular basis. That’s international law. Here’s what you’ll need.

Seating and environment

Before you can host epic gatherings in your backyard, you need to make it an inviting place in a fundamental way. That means making sure people can hang out comfortably:

  • Seating. No one wants to sit on the ground, so bring in some comfortable seating. A flexible, modular seating area like this one from Wisteria Lane is a great idea because it can be arranged in various ways and includes a table for casual dining options. You could also go with a more formal option for outdoor dinners with a dining set. To encourage that sense of summertime laziness, a porch swing like this one that can also serve as a napping spot captures the vibe perfectly.

  • Rug. No matter how nice the deck, tile, or patio is back there, a high-quality outdoor rug makes people feel comfortable kicking off their shoes, and brings a needed dash of color and pattern to your outdoor space as well.

  • Lighting and shade. For daytime hangouts, a shade sail is a must unless you have a canopy or covered area to keep the sun off your guests on hot days. Alternatively, you could set up a geodesic dome tent like this or this in case of rainy or cooler weather. When the party stretches on into the evening you obviously need to light up the area—that’s where these smart lights come into play. You can program and schedule them to create any mood at any time, turning your backyard into a special place for any occasion.

  • Music. Every hangout needs some music to set the mood, but you don’t necessarily want to think about speakers all the time. These rock speakers are waterproof, solar-powered, and will blend right into your outdoor area seamlessly, creating a magical sense that the music is coming from everywhere at once.

  • Fire pit. Fire pits add visual interest to your backyard hangout area, but they provide a touch of warmth when the summer night gets a little chilly. This fire pit table runs on propane, so it can placed anywhere that works, and doubles as a table for drinks, instantly creating an intimate environment that encourages conversation.

  • Bug control. Finally, make sure your guests aren’t swatting mosquitoes all night long with this rechargeable repeller from Thermacell. There’s no irritating zapping, scent, or smoke to get in people’s eyes—just a bug-free night.

Sustenance

Okay, you’ve got your crew over and you have a serene, comfortable spot for everyone to sit and chat. Now you have to follow the first rule of parties and feed them:

  • Kitchen. Sure, you have a grill—but why not upgrade to a full outdoor kitchen so you can whip up some truly memorable meals for your guests right there in the backyard?

  • Bar. Sure, a cooler full of cold drinks and a table laden with cocktail fixings will get the job done. But why not upgrade to an outdoor bar? Stock it with everything you need for some summery cocktails, and deploy the canopy if the weather’s proving to be uncooperative.

  • Beverage & snack tables. One thing about backyard gatherings: If you’ve done your job in terms of setting up a comfy spot for everyone to sit, no one’s going to want to get up just to get a snack. That’s where these folding and stake-able tables come in: They hold beverages and bowls of snacks and even come with a built-in bottle opener so folks can post up next to the cooler and not have to move.

Activities

Now everyone’s comfortably seated and enjoying their fave cocktails and some grub—the final piece of the puzzle for your world-class backyard hangout spot is entertainment:

  • Movies. A portable projector and a large outdoor movie screen are all you need to turn your backyard into the best movie theater known to man (or at least your neighborhood).

  • Yard games. Some classic yard games will keep everyone active and let them enjoy the sunny weather to the fullest. You can go classic with some cornhole or horseshoes, or go neo-classic with a pickleball court. Whatever games you and your friends are into, have them on hand to keep the party going.

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