Backyard activities for round-the-clock fun

Here’s a handful of ideas to keep busy over the summer months

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During the warmer months your outdoor areas can be used as extended living spaces, which is especially welcome if you live in a small home. Fresh air, sunlight and greenery is healthy for the mind, body and soul. Having the luxury of a lush garden or cooling pool are great ways to use a backyard, but they each require a lot of time, maintenance and actual space. I’ve put together a handful of outdoor living ideas that will help you and the family get out of the house during the summer months. Here are my ideas for fun and inexpensive ways to bring your outdoor space to life from dusk to dawn.

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Up with the Birds

Getting outside early each morning is a great way to start your day. Here are a few early-bird activities to consider.

When the weather is too nice to go into a gym, why not turn your backyard into a fitness facility for you and your workout buddies? A few exercise mats, free weights and some upbeat music, and you’ll be all set — you could even all chip in and hire a personal trainer for the group.

Gardening is not only therapeutic, but also a productive pastime when you get to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables and herbs!) of your labour. If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space, create a tiny tabletop greenhouse that you can tend to every morning. It’s also a great shared activity to do with kids. Want to propagate some existing plants from neighbors and friends? That small greenhouse can help keep them safe from harsh winds and backyard intruders.

Got a whole flock of early-bird friends? Host a smoothie breakfast party once a week. Bring out your blender, ice bucket, fresh fruit and other smoothie favorites (such as yogurt, seeds and nuts) and allow your guest to create their own healthy breakfast drink. It’s a fun and healthy way to start the day with social time and nutritious food.

Gardenized Green Outdoor Waterproof Portable Greenhouse, $70.
Gardenized Green Outdoor Waterproof Portable Greenhouse, $70.

Afternoon Delights

Midday is when the sun is its highest so get out and soak up some vitamin D, just remember to apply sunscreen first — or plan your activities in the shade.

Afternoons are a good time to exercise, as long as it isn’t too hot and humid. Simple backyard aerobic exercise with a trampoline or skipping rope will get your heart beating. Or, on those sweltering days, find your inner cool with yoga or low-impact strength training, both of which take up little space and require equipment that can be easily put away when you are done.

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An afternoon car wash is a great way to stay cool and be productive. Who knows, your neighbors might see you and line their car up for a good wash down — now there’s a novel afternoon summer job!

Take time for pampering in the afternoon by turning your backyard into an outdoor spa. Soak in a jet spa, deep condition your hair and add a mani/pedi with a few friends. Don’t forget to hydrate with some Prosecco! You’ll feel like you’ve spent some big bucks luxuriating at a fancy hotel spa.

under the stars

For those with day jobs, the evening (or once the kids are tucked in bed) is probably your prime time for enjoying your outdoor space.

Got a pop-up tent and sleeping bags? Why not invite friends over and have an outdoor overnight camping? Think of it as a slumber party under the stars. Fill the cooler and use your BBQ as a warming device to make S’mores and other tasty treats.

Dinner and a movie are always great inside, so why not take them outside? It’s easy to watch movies or project happy birthday messages with new portable projectors that link to your computer.

Take games night outside. Card games and old-fashioned board games are an entertaining way to spend a summer evening with family and friends. Add clip-on lamps to illuminate the tabletop surface and you’re all set. Don’t forget the citronella candles to keep bugs away. My trick is to position them safely around the ground and under the picnic table (in glass hurricane lanterns for safety) which keeps ankles and legs safe from bites.

— Karl Lohnes

Do you have a decor dilemma or want more decorating inspiration? Follow Karl on Instagram @karl_lohnes.

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