Backyard Basics: How to Create Instant Entertaining Space

Your home is your biggest investment. That’s why it’s important to make each square foot of it — including the backyard — count.

Here are two home improvements that create instant space for entertaining.

Paver fire pit with open flame
Fire pit kits come in all kinds of sizes and styles to fit a range of budgets.

Build a Fire Pit

Ready to boost your backyard offerings but don’t know where to begin? Follow ancient civilizations’ example and build a fire pit. It serves both form and function, creating a focal point and warming you up during cool summer nights and chilly winters.

A fire pit instantly expands your entertaining options, whether you’re listening to music on exterior speakers while enjoying flickering flames; sipping wine or playing card games; or roasting marshmallows and sharing ghost stories.

The options are endless, and the glow adds ambiance that enhances any occasion. 

Building a fire pit from pavers isn’t difficult; your local home center sells kits with everything you need. And they fit a range of budgets — from $200 to $2,000. It just depends on the project’s size and aesthetic.

Of course, you can always make a fire pit from scratch, too. Just search online for a design you like, purchase pavers and construction adhesive from the home center, and start building!

Want to learn more? Watch: How to Build a Fire Pit

Adirondack chairs in backyard
Adirondack chairs are functional, stylish and timeless. (DepositPhotos)

Build an Adirondack Chair

Once you’ve built a fire pit, you’ll need some backyard seating. After all, standing around a fire isn’t that relaxing!

You could purchase manufactured chairs to surround the blaze, but you never know what’s “in” today and “out” the next.

And it’s nice to make memories on furniture that’s built to last and stands the test of time.

An Adirondack chair — distinguished by its broad arms, slatted back and low seat — is functional, stylish and timeless. 

Adirondacks, named after the Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York, are ideal lounge chairs in their own right, but they especially shine on steep hills, where it’s still possible to sit upright due to their unique design.

The chair matches just about any style, and with proper maintenance, will look just as good in your backyard today as it does 10 years from now.

Now, you can purchase factory-made Adirondacks, but hand-built wooden chairs have more character and charm than their plastic counterparts.

No wooden Adirondack chair is the same as the next one. There are traditional Adirondacks, chairs with attached ottomans, miniature kid-sized chairs, two-seaters, and the list goes on.

Just search online for plans that match your style and seating needs — you’ll likely find a match.

Best of all? You can build one without much difficulty, and then use that template to build more chairs – however many you need to surround your fire pit.

Want to learn more? Watch: Building an Adirondack Chair for Your Yard

Define Your Entertainment Space

Placing your Adirondack chairs directly on the grass not only causes deads spots in your yard, but it also makes mowing more difficult. Every time you have to cut your grass, you’ll have to haul the chairs away to get an even cut.

The solution? Create a surround using paver base.

Start by outlining the area with spray paint. Then, excavate a few inches of soil.

Next, add a border to the surround. You can use pavers, fiber cement siding or landscape edging.

Fill the surround with paver base, and top if off with some pea gravel.

Finally, use a tamp to compact it.

Watch the video above to see how it’s done!

Want to learn more? Watch: How to Use Paver Base as an Outdoor Surface

For more outdoor project ideas, check out this new resource on Backyard Life from Exmark:

Further Reading

How would you enhance a blank backyard? Share your comments below!


  1. Needed: Instructions for how to add french doors to an entryway that is 46 inch wide by 105 inch tall, that is currently framed and drywalled; office privacy needed. Thanks!

    • Hi, Janice!
      You should enter our Backyard Paradise Contest, sponsored by Pavestone and Quikrete:
      A $10,000 backyard makeover is up for grabs, along with the chance to appear on ‘Today’s Homeowner’ TV.
      It’s open to U.S. and Canada residents; just click the link and complete the form!

  2. I love my back yard but hate to say the only view I have back there is the view of the woods .Out front I have long distance views of the hills and all the trees I planted ,I had dirt and a house in 2004 and came to VA from NJ where we had really rich dirt and here I want a veggie garden but soil and drought and heat destroy it in the summer and since I have a well I need to be careful .Plus up on the hill I get some pretty bad winds almost all the time .I have tried to amend the soil with no luck ,heavy rains just wash my work away .I would love above ground beds in my back yard ,But will they really work here

    • Hi, Betty!
      Thanks for telling us about your backyard that needs work in beautiful Virginia.
      You should enter our Backyard Paradise Contest, sponsored by Pavestone and Quikrete:
      A $10,000 backyard makeover is up for grabs, along with the chance to appear on ‘Today’s Homeowner’ TV.
      It’s open to U.S. and Canada residents; just click the link and complete the form!

    • Hi, Betty! I have been planting in raised beds for several years and find it the easiest and cheapest way to grow a garden! Try it, you will love the convenience and it requires no expensive gardening equipment. Also, easier on your back. I hope you will try it; I wouldn’t garden any other way! Good luck!!!

      • Thanks for sharing your experience with the Today’s Homeowner community!
        TH community members helping other TH community members — we love it. 🙂


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