In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, families are staying home and practicing social distancing.  We can’t work out at the gym, go to the movies, or enjoy a meal at a restaurant.  But the one thing we can do is still go outside.  With spring in the air, this might be a perfect time to discover your backyard’s potential.

Getting outside in nature is always a healthy option.  It reduces stress and gives us much needed vitamin D.   There have been many scientific studies that have shown that nature experiences may benefit people’s psychological well-being and cognitive function.

So while you’re stuck at home, and maybe a little bored, take a look at a few ways to enjoy that fresh air right in your own backyard.  Some ideas are inexpensive, and some might be best to have a landscaping company install. But the end result is that your backyard will become a magnet for your family.

1.   Start a butterfly garden.   Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and swamp milkweed (Aslepias incarnate) are definite host plants to use if you’re trying to attract butterflies. Plant hardy perennials that are beautiful, natural and are productive at helping our pollinators.  According to the North American Butterfly Association, in order to have a ‘certified’ butterfly garden, you much have:  three native host plants, three native nectar plants and an area without pesticides that could harm butterflies.   Read our blog on 6 Great Plants to Attract Pollinators and Butterfly Milkweed – the Perennial plant of 2017.

2.   Plant an herb garden.   Herbs require less attention than a vegetable garden.  In fact, you can grow them in a container.  Mint, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Sage, Lemon Verbena are just a few.  Think of those cocktails and meals you’ll be able to enhance.

3.   Renovate or add some shrubs/trees to your landscape.  Plants enhance a home’s curb appeal, both through their beauty and their ability to create a welcoming environment for family and visitors.  When you make a plant list, don’t forget to include some natives.  

4.   Buy a load of dirt for the kids to dig in.  Kids will immediately go outside to play and make things such as tunnels and roads.  They’ll use their plastic buckets and shovels and stay busy for hours.  Kids and Outdoors just go together.

5.  Build a fire pit.   Adding a fire pit is a great way to bring the family together plus it makes a great focal point.  See our Portfolio for ideas.   Our ancestors had time to tell lots of stories.   Don’t underestimate the value of your stories when you were a kid.  You have more tucked away than you know.

6.   Bring the Outside In.  If you’re stuck inside because of the weather, put up a birdfeeder and enjoy their antics through the window.  Do some cloud watching as the weather goes by.

7.   Grow a vegetable garden.   Reap tons of fresh veggies but remember start small and think about space and light conditions.  Gardening can be a teaching opportunity for children to reinforce skills such as math, science, language arts.

8.   Start an easy-to-grow flower garden.  There are thousands of flower combination choices.  But remember, plant performance is affected by the soil and sun/shade requirements.  When you plant the correct plant for the conditions specific to your site, expect it to thrive.  For additional reading: 12 Best Annuals for Your Sunny Yard.

9.   Get the Best Lawn on the Block.  It’s amazing how a beautiful lawn can lift your spirits.  If you feel overwhelmed on how to achieve that weed free, green lawn, contact a lawn care professional that can help you get that lawn you wish you had.  Lawn Care 101: How to Get a Great Lawn.

10.   Install  outdoor lighting.   Extend the time you’re outdoors and at the same time, make your place safer and more navigable.   It’s a great way to extend the enjoyment and use of your outdoor spaces. 

11.   Install a water feature.   Fountains or pondless waterfalls  in a backyard promote relaxation.  A water feature in your yard will provide a special place for you and your family to relax and enjoy each other.

12.  Hang some outdoor lights.  Decorative outdoor lights in your backyard can add a fun style.

13.   Plant containers.   Containers are the easiest way to add color to your patio or deck without digging up the grass.  In addition to planning flowers and shrubs, you can also plant vegetables and herbs.  Read:  Ideas and Tips for Container Planters.

14.   Add a living privacy fence.  Do you have a privacy issue in your backyard?  Plant some trees to give you the privacy you’re looking for from the prying eyes of neighbors.  In addition, it’s gives you added security to your home. Read:  How to Create Privacy

15.   Hang a hammock.  Perfect for a summer nap and if you don’t have two trees, find one with a stand. This simple purchase  will bring you hours of relaxation!

16.   Create a pathway.   Pathways can take you from the front of the house to the back or they can take you to a little secluded destination.  You can even make a little path through a garden with stepping stones.  There are so many materials to choose from and make your yard more interesting.

17.   Build a gravel garden.     Buy a few hardy, unique plants and plant in a bed of gravel.   The soil retains moisture better when it is below the surface and protected.  The gravel allows water to trickle down and stay for longer as opposed to a top layer of mulch where water evaporates quickly.  Another advantage is that weed seeds are less likely to find home to germinate.

18.  Grow upwards with vertical gardening.   Choose a support system, like a trellis, fence, or vertical structure where you can plant climbing plants such as climbing ivy, morning glories, etc. or hang potted plants.  Invest in a perennial vine such as clematis that will return for many years.  Vertical gardening is a fun and efficient use of space especially if you have a small yard.

19. Attract Hummingbirds.   Hummingbirds are fascinating to watch and with just a few plants, your yard will become a hummingbird destination.  Learn more on How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard.

20. Take a Trip to Lancaster's Greenhouses.   Ok, maybe not a backyard activity but your yard will thank you this summer.  Visit some of the amazing Lancaster greenhouses for annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, hanging plants, gardening needs, etc.  Great selection and you can beat the prices.  Greenhouses are classified as Agriculture Essential Businesses and are well worth the ride.  Some outstanding ones are Black Creek Greenhouses and Groff's Plant Farm.   And be sure to check out these other fine  Lancaster plant destinations.   

So dust off the shovel, get out the gardening gloves and hit the yard.  There are many fantastic ways to add to your outdoor living enjoyment.  At Whitehouse Landscaping, we have always be inspired by the concept of extending living spaces outdoors by creating awesome spaces to enjoy with family and friends. 

If you need some help to create an outdoor living space at your home, we're here to help.  Whitehouse Landscaping is a full-service company and we are passionate about designing, building and maintaining functional and beautiful outdoor spaces.  Contact us at 484-300-4290 or contact us  on our website.