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Backyard Bucket List: from the Grill to the Garden

If you plan it properly, your back yard can be the best feature of your happy home.  It’s a place to enjoy the outdoors, to visit with friends and family and to enrich the way you live.  With the right investments, your back yard can be the best on the block.  These 10 items can turn a boring back yard into prime property for entertaining, relaxing, cooking and more. Join us for the ultimate backyard bucket list, a guide to stocking a great back yard with plenty of enjoyment.

This article is brought to you by State Farm. For more help, visit www.statefarm.com.

Build an Outdoor Kitchen

The allure of outdoor cooking goes far beyond the standard four-burner grill.  Everyone from TV chefs to amateur foodies have embraced the outdoor cooking movement, and it’s about time you should too.  We suggest checking out the work of the professionals at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a company that specializes in designing and constructing professional-grade outdoor kitchens.  They helped chef Rick Bayless build an outdoor kitchen of his own in Chicago, Illinois, and they’ve done work throughout the United States.  Their special hybrid grill system can cook with gas, coal and even wood, whatever you have available and whatever you think would do your cooking the most justice.  It’s a great place to start for your back yard makeover, one that the chef in you and the food lovers in your family will adore.

Kalamazoo Gourmet Outdoor Kitchen | Gallery

The Garden of the Future

By ditching the soil and growing vertically, this garden of the future produces abundant vegetables and herbs in half the time as traditional growing, and with only a fraction of the water.  The Tower Garden system was developed by a scientist who adopted NASA and USDA technologies to devise a simple, powerful growing system that any gardener can use, green thumb or not.  The system uses aeroponic, soil-free growing technologies to feed plants from seedling to harvest to yield the finest produce available.  These tower gardens are popping up all over the US, and for $499, you can add one to your back deck, balcony or any sunny space you can spare.

Tower Garden Gallery

Backyard Chickens in a Modern Setting

For today’s younger generations, raising backyard chickens was something their grandparents did.  This is true no longer, as a desire for sustainable living and fresh, organic food has driven a new movement of backyard chicken adoption throughout the US.  Take this couple in Portland, Oregon, for example– a pair of architects who designed their own modern chicken coup to house their feathered family.  It is quite the departure from the eye sore chicken coups of the mid 20th century, it is a building that enriches the visual space of a modern back yard.  Want to try something like this yourself?  It is a fruitful new hobby for any food lover.  Chickens require little maintenance, and without a rooster one hen can produce up to 300 eggs per year.  A few hens in your back yard can feed your family its breakfast for free all year round.  If you wish to learn more about this new food movement, and even how to design your own coop, visit BackyardChickens.com. [learn more about this chicken coop from Dwell magazine]

Modern Chicken Coop by Mitchell Snyder Architecture

Green Rain Water Collection

So you’ve got your garden of the future, you’ve got your chicken coop and your outdoor kitchen.  Your dishes need rinsing, your garden needs water and your chickens could use a drink.  A great way to solve all three problems is to harvest the natural water that falls from the sky in a rain barrel.  These systems can be found at your local hardware store, you can build your own, or you can set up a high-design system like the Raindrop Rain Barrel featured here.  It features an inset watering can and a bottom-mounted spigot for watering your plants, rinsing the dishes before washing or giving your chickens a drink.  If you use the garden hose anywhere in your back yard, you’ll need one of these.

Raindrop Rain Barrel Gallery

Add a New Living Space

If you’ve got a big back yard, one that could spare 10×20 feet of space, you might want to consider adding a new structure to that yard of yours.  This prefab studio by Modern Cabana can be used as a guest house, a pool house, a home office, an art studio or an outdoor den for you and your family.  They can be purchased direct from the manufacturer, they are then fabricated in a warehouse and shipped to your site.  They can be assembled with the assistance of the developer or built on your own if you’re the crafty type.  The Modern Cabana system may be one of the nicest prefab studios, but it’s not the only one.  Shop around, consider restoring that old shed in the back yard, or even devise something entirely your own.  You’ll be surprised how much it adds to your back yard… and the value of your home.

Modern Cabanas Prefab Studio Gallery

Outdoor, All-Weather Television

If you love the outdoors but can’t pry yourself away from the television on game day, worry not.  You can enjoy the highest quality of television with an outdoor, all-weather TV.  The Seura Storm Outdoor TV is precisely what we have in mind, as it represents possibly the top-of-the-line outdoor televisions that are built to handle whatever the elements throw at it.  From -30 to 140 degrees fahrenheit, from rain to sleet to mid-day sun, it’ll handle it all– while producing crystal clear HD video on command.

Seura Storm Outdoor TV Gallery

Outdoor Heaters for Cooler Months

If you’re as excited reading this list as we are writing it, we might both take pause by the fact that there will be many months until we can enjoy the outdoors in warmth again.  Fortunately, the cooler months are heated by nice outdoor patio heaters like these.  The Lava Heaters Outdoor Heaters provide plenty of warmth to an intimate area radius with an attractive gas-fed flame.  There are plenty of patio heaters on the market, from propane to electric powered systems, but we chose the Lava Heaters for their visual aesthetic, something that you should always keep in mind when designing your ideal back yard.

Outdoor All-Weather Speakers

When you’re outside, you can take your tunes with you whether you’re alone or with guests.  These Bose Outdoor Speakers provide 360-degree sound in high quality and across a full tonal range of highs, mids and lows.  Their design allows them to be hidden in the ground amongst your landscaping, and others can be mounted on walls or elsewhere.  They can handle all four seasons of weather and still produce crisp, clear sound at plenty of volume ranges, ready to provide the sonic backdrop to your next get-together.

Bose Outdoor Speakers Gallery

Plug-and-Play Hot Tubs

A hot tub seems like an obvious addition to the perfect back yard.  If you’ve ever had one, you also know it as a hole in your deck that you throw money into and barely use.  The problem is that traditional hot tubs do not age well, and they take up plenty of important space whether they’re in use or not.  Instead, we suggest a plug-and-play hot tub, one that can be used as needed and stored elsewhere.  One great option is the Lay-Z-Spa Rigid Inflatable Hot Tub, a system that inflates to fit up to four people with a rigid wall that doesn’t give like a typical inflatable.  When you’re done with the Lay-Z-Spa Rigid, just empty it, deflate it and store it away with its power unit and you won’t have to worry about it until you’re ready to break it out for your next party.

Lay-Z-Spa Rigid Inflatable Hot Tub Gallery

Back Yard Putting Green

Golf has long been a much adored escape from the office, and the same can be true of your home office.  Synthetic grass manufacturers are often experts in installing private putting greens, and there’s nothing stopping you from adding one of your own with a small investment.  One option is SYNLawn, a synthetic grass specialist who builds putting greens and tee options for residences and business clients alike.  If you have some spare room in your back yard (that isn’t occupied by your kitchen, art studio, hot tub or outdoor theater, of course!), why not add a few holes to knock around some golf balls when you’re putting an idea around in your head?  It’s a hole in one in our eyes.

Back Yard Putting Green Gallery

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Thanks for reading!  While we’ve all got some months to plan before the weather warms up again, that’s the time we need to make this coming summer the best it can be.  Your back yard can be your solace, a special place of enjoyment where the great outdoors meets your own little patch of the planet.  If you have ideas that we didn’t explore here, be sure to share them in the comments below or tweet us @thecoolist.  We’re eager to hear your take on building the ultimate back yard!