Your backyard can either be a peaceful and private refuge or a part of your property that you avoid at all costs. The difference between the former and the latter depends on the time, work, and effort you put into making it a safe and comfortable outdoor living space. By understanding how to eliminate dangerous hazards and stay on top of regular maintenance tasks, you can completely transform the way you, and others, see your backyard.
Backyards Aren’t Always the Safest
While most people think of their own backyard as a safe retreat or quiet oasis, not everyone has that luxury. If not properly monitored, your backyard could end up being a nuisance – or even dangerous.
Just ask the residents of a quiet neighborhood in Hickory Island in Bonita Springs, Florida. They’ve recently spotted an eight- or nine-foot bull shark swimming up against the shoreline of their condos. In an effort to get rid of the sharks they believe are being lured in by people fishing, residents have asked the city to make the area a swimming-only area.
While you may not be at risk of attracting sharks to your backyard, you certainly won’t be attracting any friends and family members if your outdoor living spaces are messy, overrun, or unsafe. Some of the possible risks of an unkempt backyard include:
- Excess dog poop. In addition to being annoying land mines, dog poop in the backyard can actually encourage bacteria and viruses to manifest in your lawn. Some parasites can even be passed on to humans through contact with the skin.
- Ticks and Lyme disease. While ticks will make their homes wherever they please, you’re actually encouraging them to reside in your backyard when you have excess weeds and plant growth. If left untreated, a tick’s bite could cause dangerous symptoms or even Lyme disease.
- Swimming pool chemicals. If you have a hot tub or swimming pool, you need to pay careful attention to the chemicals you use. Over-treated pools can lead to chemical poisoning in certain chronically exposed individuals.
But that’s not all. Poorly maintained play areas can be dangerous for kids, gas grills can experience propane leaks, too much weed growth can encourage snakes and rodents, and a lack of regular monitoring can lead to termite damage around the foundation of your home.
Tips for Maintaining Your Backyard
The key is to design a functional and safe backyard that’s aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to spend time in. With the hopes of mitigating these risks and turning your backyard into the oasis it deserves to be, let’s take a look at some of the top tips and tricks:
- Clean up the mess. The first place to start is with the mess. Set up a large trash bin (or dumpster) and throw away anything and everything that’s been sitting untouched for longer than a month. This will improve the appearance and reduce the number of hiding spots for critters and pests. Be especially mindful of getting rid of any areas of standing water, as these are breeding grounds for mosquitos.
- Do some landscaping. Once the mess is cleared out, focus on sprucing things up with a little landscaping. Cut the grass, lay some fresh pine straw or bark around trees and flower beds, pull weeds, trim back overhanging branches, and pull out the pooper scooper.
- Touch up existing features. After the yard is noticeably improved, you should work on repairing any damage. Touch up shutters with fresh paint, re-stain the deck or porch, and fix any issues with pools, hot tubs, or playgrounds.
- Take on some DIY projects. Once you’ve restored your backyard to its former glory, you can begin to think about new additions and DIY projects. These may include building a fire pit, installing a new seating area, building design features, installing an outdoor sound system, or adding lighting. Take this step slowly and only begin projects that you’re confident you can finish within a short period of time. Taking on too many projects at once can leave you frustrated and dejected.
Maximizing Your Backyard
While your backyard may not have a nine-foot bull shark swimming through it, you still need to be careful about maintaining it and keeping your family and friends safe. Using these tips and tricks, you can turn your backyard into your own private oasis for the summer.