Time to Take On the Backyard

Create your outdoor dream space for the spring and summer season

By Abigail Thorpe

Warmer days, bright sunshine and longer daylight hours have us all longing for T-shirt weather and some time spent outdoors. As the sun starts to shine brighter and the lake begins to rise, we’re all eagerly looking for the days we can decamp to our backyard for some relaxing hours spent out of doors.


But if your space is looking a bit worn from the winter, you just moved into a new space, or you haven’t had the time to create an outdoor space for your spring and summer enjoyment, now is the perfect time to tackle some outdoor projects to create that perfect front or backyard.


So while you’re dusting off the patio set and pondering a spring garden, here are some other ways to help make the most of your space—from some small improvements to more large-scale projects. And if you’re in the market to sell, some outdoor improvements matter when it comes to helping you get the most for your home—even in a market as hot as this one.


Take the Living Outdoors

These days, we’re spending more and more time at home, and when it comes to spring and summer (and even sometimes the colder months), most people want to spend as many of those hours outdoors as possible. According to an NKBA membership survey, there’s been a 65 percent increase in overall outdoor living project interest in recent years.


People are looking to update their outdoor spaces to more functionality, and for many that means outdoor kitchens. While this is a large project when it comes to improving your backyard, 76 percent of those surveyed were planning outdoor kitchen areas. Patios and decks, screened-in porches and three-season rooms are also popular, especially in places like Sandpoint, where we want a little added protection from the seasonal weather while enjoying the sun and view of the outdoors.


Some of the most requested features for outdoor living spaces—and ones that are relatively simple yet transform your space to an all (or most) season extension of your living space—include expanded and upgraded seating options like outdoor sofas and lounge chairs, fireplaces and firepits, and additional weather protection like overhead coverings.


Something as simple as adding a firepit can extend your outdoor use well into the autumn months (and even winter and spring), and anchor your seating area for an inviting space that doubles as the perfect entertaining spot.


Easy, Small Improvements

Improving your backyard space doesn’t need to involve adding a kitchen or pool. Sometimes it’s the simplest improvements that go the furthest in creating a space you love and want to spend your time in.


Creative planter ideas are a fun way to spruce up a dull yard and can be quite useful if you’re dealing with a small space. Look to items you may not usually consider for planters: baskets, buckets, antique pieces and even old furniture. Just make sure it has proper drainage in the bottom for your plants to thrive. You can even add a little paint here and there to creative planters to make them your own and add a little splash of color to your space.


Think vertical when you’re planning your space. Hanging plants, hanging chairs and lighting will transform your space and create a backyard paradise you won’t want to leave. If you have older cushions that still work, but you want a little refresh, consider recovering instead of replacing them. And don’t forget rugs aren’t only for the indoors. An outdoor rug will add the final touch to complete your space and extend that indoor feeling of comfort outside.


Finally, put your outdoor space to use. Besides creating a space to entertain and relax, use raised beds, or even pots and planters, to grow some items that will save you a trip to the store. Herbs, veggies and flowers are a great use of space, and often don’t require a lot of room or work. If you have the space, some fruit trees provide a beautiful backdrop and a homegrown treat during the right season, and can fill some of that empty space to create a picturesque landscape.


Add on to Your Space

Cottages or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are becoming more and more popular, particularly as available living space in our small town seems to become more and more expensive and difficult to find. If your space and zoning allow, building a small ADU on your extra land is a great way to make the most of your space.


Backyard cottages or ADUs can serve as additional functional space to extend the living area, as a guest house, or temporarily as a home for elderly relatives or adult children living with you. They also are in hot demand as rentals and can serve as a side source of income, easily paying for themselves.


If a backyard cottage or ADU isn’t in the cards, even something like a pergola or outdoor covered or semi-covered space can double as an outdoor living space where you can entertain, relax and soak up the warmer months.


Ready for Resale

The current housing market is intense, and it’s no secret that homes don’t stay on the market long, but even in a hot market like the current one, your outdoor space matters when it comes to the resale value of your home.


Whether you’re looking to sell or you’re just throwing the idea around, now is the perfect time to get a jump start on making your front and backyards show their best. If you decide not to sell, then you’ll have a new and improved space to enjoy yourself!


When it comes to resale, curb appeal is everything. Make your first impression count by cleaning up the yard, trimming any trees or bushes, planting some flowers, and making sure your lawn is green if you have one—even if that means replacing it! If your front door is less than inviting, paint, repair or replace it—it matters more than you think.


Some simple things can make a big difference and really catch the eye, like spreading fresh mulch, cleaning up and tidying the yard and the outside of your home (cleaning or painting dirty or old siding will really freshen a place up), and adding a few vibrant annuals to catch the eye.


Focus on upgrades that aren’t too costly but make the space feel inviting and livable, and increase the perception of more living space. Set up your outdoor space to feel like a true entertainment area with seating, lighting and enough privacy to enjoy the space without being noticed by all of your neighbors.


One of the more costly items that you might consider is adding or repairing a deck or patio. The return on investment is often worth it, and you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor space even more in the meantime.


Whether you’re looking for a complete overhaul of your outdoor space, or simply ready to make a few simple changes to update your yard and enjoy it over the spring and summer, it’s the perfect time to start now, so when the temperatures start to hit the 70s, you’ll be ready and waiting to head outdoors and enjoy the season while it lasts.


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