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With summer officially approaching, now’s the time to start creating a blueprint for the backyard reboot of your winter-weary dreams. Make the most out of your outdoor space this summer by bringing your kitchen outdoors and growing your own cocktail ingredients.
Whether you gather around a custom-built fire pit with s’mores or sweat it out in a barrel sauna, a little work now will mean a lot of relaxation in the not distant future.
Grow your own cocktail ingredients
Hopping on the farm-to-table bandwagon, garden-to-glass cocktails will elevate your reputation and mixology abilities. When it’s safe to host again, you’ll be well-practiced and confident in your bar menu. Whether you choose to get deeply botanical with infusions and “shrubs” or keep it simple with ready-to-pluck mint and Thai basil, cocktail gardens can be as minimal or extensive as your liquor cabinet.
Take-out pizza: the real deal
If you want to engage in a labour of love that will return the favour, upgrade your outdoor kitchen from a generic barbecue to a showstopper pizza oven. There are several online tutorials that will satisfy all skill levels, budgets and design tastes from rustic to elaborate. For a quick and portable fix, you can order an Ooni Koda. Fueled by propane, the Koda oven reaches 500°C in minutes, and you’ll have a piping pizza pie at the ready in 60 seconds.
Before you create your vision board, make sure to check with your municipality’s fire regulations and permit requirements. If you live in a wooded area, be mindful fires can burn deep below the surface and ignite tree roots. A 5-inch base layer of crushed gravel is advised. Like pizza ovens, fire pits can be built using natural stone, fire pit blocks or metal fire rings. Hard rocks like granite or lava rock won’t crack under extreme heat. Building centres carry complete kits with palletized stone (pre-sorted stone of uniform size) and DIY divas can learn how to lay capstone and build custom Muskoka chairs for the entire family.
Gas and propane-fuelled fire pit tables are popular for their mess-free instant gratification (no wood! No ash! No smoky clothes to launder!) while freestanding copper fire bowls create a natural and artistic focal point.
Need help choosing the right fire pit or location for your outdoor space? Check out Your Guide to Outdoor Fireplaces.
Let off some steam
Outdoor saunas can be a timeless addition to a backyard space. They can be used year-round and the health benefits make them a sound wellness investment. Lady Gaga and much of Finland swear by them. The design options jump from traditional to panoramic to white cedar barrel saunas with miniature porches. However, with a little sweat equity, friends will be eager to join you once it’s safe to do so. And, even more so when your backyard reboot is complete!
Open air shower or cowboy bath?
If you don’t have a lake in your backyard to jump into after cutting the grass, how about building an outdoor shower? It can be enclosed or open-air, making the set-up even simpler. All you need is an accessible water source, weatherproof wood and sufficient drainage away from your house.
Prefer a soak? “Cowboy tubs” are traditionally galvanized livestock water troughs or stock tanks and they are a fun off-grid amenity gaining popularity on Airbnb listings. Copper tubing makes the magic happen and with a little fire-tending patience, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind hot tub to soak in. With a garden-to-glass cocktail in hand, of course!
Backyard reboots can be achieved with any budget and a little ingenuity. Remember, you’re investing in relaxation and serenity, which is priceless!Looking for more ideas on how to transform your backyard into the ultimate retreat? Check out these suggestions for me-time she sheds, and big impact upgrades for your patio, porch and balcony too.