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5 budget-friendly ways to upgrade your backyard this summer

Warm weather means spending more time outside. Whether you’re gardening, relaxing in your hammock or throwing a party, you can transform your outdoor space into a real living space even with a limited budget. Start by assessing your backyard to determine what might need your attention and how much time you have to complete a project. Since these five types of upgrades range in terms of price and time commitment, choose one that fits your budget so you can enjoy your backyard throughout the summer.

Fill your space with sound

Music livens up any space and sets the mood whether you’re having a barbecue with friends or relaxing at home. Streaming music from a favorite playlist is easy and can be wallet friendly or big budget.

$—Instead of streaming directly from your phone, whose internal speakers never do justice to music as it was intended to be listened to, get a Bluetooth® speaker. This small device fits in the palm of your hand and serves as an affordable way to stream music to your outdoor space.

$$—A mid-priced upgrade for your home would be a pair of outdoor speakers installed on the patio or porch that can remain there throughout the seasons.

$$$—The ultimate upgrade for music lovers would be installing cleverly designed speakers into your backyard landscape. Faux rock wireless speakers blend into your yard yet provide sound throughout your space in a gorgeous way.

Create mood lighting

Whether overhead or on a path, twinkling lights are always a welcome addition to any home as the sun goes down. The soft glow makes everyone look fabulous as guests snap and share photos, but they’re also functional from a safety perspective.

$—Get a set of outdoor solar lights to hang in your trees or string along the outside of your house or on a fence to provide ambience. Clear glass globes are a classic look that provide plenty of overhead light while ones encased in tin-looking shapes give off an ethereal glow. When coordinated with your outdoor décor, colored lights add fun to a warm summer’s night.

$$—After you’ve hung your strings of solar lights, look at your paths and consider installing lights to illuminate your walkways. Solar path lights can be stuck into the ground along walkways that see the sun during the day. Shady spots will need wired lights and require a bit more effort since you’ll want to dig a shallow trench to conceal the wires under the soil.

$$$—Motion-activated lights are a wise investment from a home security perspective. Dark corners of your yard can be instantly illuminated to thwart those who might be tempted to break in or linger in dark shadows.

Add some green

Nothing provides an instant upgrade to your outdoor space more than some new greenery or taking the time to improve the condition of your existing lawn.

$—Take a trip to the garden center or home improvement store to pick up terra cotta or ceramic pots, potting soil and flowering plants to give your yard a pop of color throughout the season. This project is not only easy on the wallet, but pots don’t take up a lot of room. You can make quick work of placing flowering plants in the pots and the results will be enjoyed all summer long.

$$—Chances are your lawn is green, but is it as healthy and lush as you’d like it to be? If the answer is no, purchase a bag of grass seed, a spreader and some burlap. Pour some grass seed into the spreader, turn the handle while walking over the bare spots, and then cover the area with burlap to keep the birds from eating the seed. In just a few days you’ll start to see new grass poking up through the burlap. Uncover it and keep watering for a gorgeous green lawn!

$$$—If you don’t have a green thumb and have the means, hire a professional landscaper. Think of this as outsourcing your yard. A landscaper can assess your yard and come up with a design for your garden. Landscapers can do everything from providing a design and list of plants that will thrive in your sunny or shady areas to a crew that will come and do the planting for you.

Bring the inside out

When the weather warms and your body is craving the heat of the sun, it’s time for more outdoor living. Transform your backyard space into an outdoor living space that resembles the interior of your home with these three fixes.

$—Nothing makes your outdoor living space feel more like the inside of your home than pillows and a rug made with indoor/outdoor fabric. If you can’t afford both right now, pillows are the more affordable option as you save up for a coordinating rug.

$$—If you already have an outdoor seating area, consider adding a fire pit. A fire pit adds ambience after the sun goes down and makes for a fun place to make s’mores, sip wine, and talk late into the night.

$$$—Those plastic chairs did the job of providing extra seating, but as a new homeowner, it’s time to take pride in your space and upgrade to a wooden set. A wood patio set is classic, timeless and an investment. The adage “you get what you pay for” is certainly true. Purchasing a set made of teak is a wise investment since it can last a lifetime when properly cared for with an annual application of teak oil.

Become a grill master

Summer is all about grilling, and whether you’re still finding your way around a barbecue or are a pit master, you’ll want to take some small steps to upgrade your tools to prepare the best food possible.

$—Buy a new set of grill tools. Replace those old ones that you’ve had for years with a shiny new set that matches. Sold individually, as sets or in cases, a basic three-piece set that contains a spatula, meat fork and tongs will do just fine and allows you to spend the rest on a good grill brush.

$$—If you hover over your grill wondering if the meat is done, take the guesswork out of your cooking with a digital thermometer. Any digital thermometer will do, but if you want to truly take the mystery out of your meat, get a smart grill thermometer that works with an app on your smartphone and can track the temperature of your meat and alert you when it’s done. This allows you to focus on your guests while entertaining.

$$$—The pièce de résistance is always the grill itself, so you’ll want to save your coins for the gas or charcoal grill you’ve been lusting over.

With a variety of projects to fit every type of yard and budget, these ideas are designed to make your outdoor space more livable this summer and throughout the years to come.