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5 Ideas to maximize your back yard this summer

You finally have a back yard. Between cookouts, gardening projects and the smell of fresh-cut grass to look forward to, the possibilities for the much-anticipated outdoor season are endless. Don’t let your new space go to waste—here are some quick, simple ideas to turn your yard into your new favorite hangout.

campfire

Build yourself a fire pit

As a quick perusal of Pinterest will show you, you can get all kinds of crafty and elaborate ideas to make your own fire—which is awesome if you have the time, planning and DIY know-how. But chances are, if you’ve waited this long to plan your flaming masterpiece, you’re on the “ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-that” spectrum of craftsmanship.

If you’re like most of us and need to host a bonfire, like, right now, you’re probably going to want to get down and dirty with a quick, easy and inexpensive plan. Blogger Stone Soup for Five offers a straight-forward, step-by-step guide to building a basic, round fire pit.

With a supply cost of about $50 and around an hour of assembly time, you’ll be kicking back around your fire in no time. (Bonus points if you get a grate to put over the top and grill your grub.) With any project that requires digging and fire, make sure to call 811 before you dig and check with your community’s fire laws or regulations.

grill

Grill up a beer can chicken

Summer calls for totally over-indulgent food—and what’s more indulgent than stuffing a beer can inside of a whole chicken and throwing it on the grill?

Trick question, you probably thought the answer was “nothing.” German Die Grillshow kicks it up a notch with their whiskey cola can recipe, though the language barrier might leave more guess-work than the average backyard cook is comfortable with.

Other recipes suggest wrapping the bird in bacon, for those of us who are into the whole multi-meat thing but don’t want to risk the potential house fire deep-frying a turducken.

jenga mario tome on flickr

Challenge your friends to EXTREME JENGA

Remember the thrill of seamlessly plucking the little, wooden block from the Jenga stack (especially after toppling said stack multiple times)? Imagine how much more exciting the game would be if you upped the stakes with giant Jenga.

If that sounds fun, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible, it’s cheap, and you can do it yourself with some 2×4’s, a sander and power saw (and, of course safety glasses and adult supervision). Instructables offers easy, step-by step instructions to make your own set for less than $20 for materials.

You can even customize your Jenga game by painting the ends of the blocks like blogger Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess—red, white and blue could be fitting for approaching July 4 activities. It would probably be wise to wear close-toed shoes while playing, because a stack of heavy wooden blocks with sharp corners landing on your feet could easily ruin an otherwise fun evening.

bubble

Keep the kids busy with giant bubbles

When it comes to outdoor activities, you might as well go big or go home (see aforementioned giant Jenga game). This philosophy absolutely applies to bubbles, and few things are as irresistible to children as bubbles. And let’s be honest, you totally will want in on the massive-bubble action, too.

Blogger Happy Hooligans shared this bubble recipe which she promises will make “the biggest bubbles ever!” as well as instructions to make a quick, easy and cheap bubble wand for maximum bubbling.

The ingredients are things you probably already have at home—Dawn dish detergent, corn starch, baking powder and glycerin—and the flexibility of the bubble wand mean guests of all ages can effortlessly create surprisingly large bubbles.

mosquito

Keep your party lit and bug-free

Let’s face it, some parts of The Great Outdoors can make nature hard to enjoy; the hum of mosquitos and onslaught of itchy, red welts can quickly damper a relaxing evening.

Christina from The Frugal Homemaker provides instructions to make citronella Mason jar tiki torches that take five minutes to make. Just drill a hole in the lid of the jar, string a wick through, fill the jar citronella tiki fluid and carefully light for a cozy, bug-repellant glow.

Don’t have any mason jars sitting around? Wine or liquor bottles from barbecues past can give the lanterns an eclectic, tavern vibe. Yeah Vintage blog’s quick and easy bottle lantern is similarly easy, but swaps out the mason jars with glass bottles.

As with any open flame, lanterns should be used with care.

“Please remember that there is a fine line between oil lanterns and Molotov cocktails,” Yeah Vintage reminds readers. “They should only be made, lit, and handled in well ventilated outdoor areas.  Keep away from areas where they might be knocked over and especially out of reach of kiddos and animals.”

These backyard ideas are brought to you by UMH Properties, a network of manufactured communities committed to the lifestyle you want.

 

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