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Have Your Best Backyard Summer
Summer is the season of freedom and refreshment. A tall glass of ice-cold lemonade basking on your sun-lit porch; a carefree child swinging a pail of freshly picked strawberries; vanilla ice cream melting down the sides of your peach pie à-la-mode.
You can bring the vibrance of summer close to home — to where you walk and sit, and with what you cook and grow.
Your backyard, patio and garden are the perfect places to make memories with family and friends — lush backyard lawns and rich wood decks quench a thirst for life that can only be found during the most energetic days of the year.
This is the season when nature may beckon you most, every hour of the day. The fresh mornings and lingering evenings of summer leave you feeling revived and motivated to embrace the natural world you can make your own.
Here are some ideas for enjoying your very own outdoor oasis, every moment of the day:
Get in the garden
Digging in the dirt helps you mold nature’s soft clay with your fingertips. The soil provides a place to surrender your secrets and replenish your soul; trust that Mother Nature will nurture your needs for groundedness, growth and grace. Let planting and tending a garden become a therapeutic practice, followed by the benefits of a backyard bounty.
After spending hours in the spring getting your garden going, summer can be the time to enjoy it the most. Sit by the garden and enjoy vibrant blossoms, or harvest baskets of vegetables to eat and share.
Plan meals, parties or picnics in or around your garden — it will tell you what are the season's best offerings. For your "garden party," cover a table with a cloth and adorn the surface with loose petals or a bouquet from your garden. Have everyone bring something they harvested or purchased from a farm, and provide iced tea and honey wine for refreshment.
If you got a late start on your garden, it’s not too late to enjoy beautiful blooms. You can buy flowers or planters to brighten your deck, yard or porch. Let Mother Nature show you her pearls of peonies and her diamond daisies.
Waste not … compost a lot
Lawn clippings and apple cores don’t have to sit on the curb for garbage collection anymore. Recycling and composting are almost as simple as taking out the trash, but they are far more rewarding — for you and the Earth.
Kary Schumpert, environmental educator for Eco-Cycle in Boulder, Colo., says you can either dig a hole to make your own compost pile or buy a compost bin.
“A bin often makes it more aesthetically pleasing,” she says. “This also makes it easier to keep everything contained, and gives you the ability to compost year-round.”
Schumpert says that dark-colored compost bins trap heat, which assists in the compost process, even in cold winter months.
With a simple compost recipe, Schumpert says that in three to six months, you can create a nutrient-rich material to add to your garden soil. She recommends layering your vegetable and food scraps with yard waste to create the perfect combination of nitrogen and carbon to break down used materials into compost.
Sink into the season
You don't have to rely on the confines of isolation or the cost of air conditioning to find restful and relaxing afternoons this summer. Bring the comfort of your home outside and sway in the support of a hammock.
Find a spot of shade to call your own — beneath trees or overhangs you can find the perfect place to enjoy crisp mornings, warm days and lingering evenings.
Every moment you spend curled in this cocoon is another moment taken to nourish the serenity of your soul; to retreat and awaken in bliss — a delicate and mindful butterfly.
Reap the rain
You can collect rainwater on all the days you aren't catching rays of sunshine.
The smell of rain and the magnificence of thunderstorms make even the wettest days of summer some of the most inspiring. Make the most of what Mother Nature has to offer on these days, even while you sit inside with a good book or creative project.
Although some cities and states do not permit rain harvesting, you can check to see if it may be an option for you to collect this natural resource for some of your water needs.
Make nice with nature
As much as you may love to be outside on a summer evening, you may not like when you wake up in the middle of the night with itchy bumps on your ankles or painful bites on your neck.
Wearing pants and long sleeves may help reduce your chances of being bitten, but who wants to swelter and sweat all summer long?
Many conventional methods of repelling mosquitoes and other no-see-ums may be harmful to you and your children. Look into ways you can fight off incessant bugs without using chemicals.
Mesh screens and insect-repellant candles and wristbands could be your strongest allies in nature this summer.
Light your way home
The sun may linger a little longer, but you will still need to find light and warmth at the end of the day.
Campfire stories and songs also come alive when the sun goes down. Fire bowls are a safe and attractive addition to your backyard and won't leave lasting char-marks in your yard. Make sure to follow necessary precautions and regulations in your area before starting a fire.
Make your evenings light, warm and bug-free, and leave traces of nostalgia in the air with the familiar smoky smell of camping trips and midsummer memories.
Make every summer beautiful and bright — open up your home, and your heart, to the sweet abundance of the season.