Summertime is the best time of the year to enjoy lazy afternoons and long warm evenings in the backyard. With more families making plans to stay home for the summer, this year promises more family time – and more time to transform your backyard into your own summer paradise. 

Whether you’re hoping to create a playground for your kids, a perfect BBQ spot, or a social-distanced oasis for a few friends,  your yard can be the perfect place to lounge and relax. Even if you’re on a budget we’ve got a  few well-chosen improvements to rock your backyard this year.

Check out 18 affordable and surprisingly fun ways to enjoy your backyard this summer.

Start grilling

Grilling is a fantastic way to enjoy your backyard with family and expand your cooking prowess. Get your gourmet BBQ chef badge and save some serious green.

1. Choose a backyard grill

If you already have a grill, you’re off to a great start. For those who don’t already have a grill, Ibotta’s got you covered with cash back at Lowe’s and Home Depot. Do some research to make sure you find the perfect fit for your budget and space, then shop and save. You’ll be flipping the perfect (veggie) burger in no time. 

2. Brick your own barbeque pit

Love to barbecue? You can turn your summer days into a gratifying project for the cost of some bricks and mortar. Brick your own barbeque pit and enjoy the smoky, slow-cooked results.

3. Save on grillable meats all summer

If you’re a meat-eater, take advantage of groceries available for pickup and delivery through Ibotta. You’ll save big at your favorite supermarkets on the perfect grillable meats from steaks and burgers to chicken kebabs and turkey legs. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, throw some delicious meat alternatives on the grill alongside fresh veggies, or even try grilled fruits for a fresh BBQ spin. 

Build a backyard playground

With children in the house or visiting often, your backyard may be the perfect playground. The kids will love playing with the backyard toys, and adults will enjoy lounging in the shade watching them play. Backyard playgrounds and yard games can be the perfect long-term investment, especially when you explore sales and cash back options at stores like Lowe’s.

4. Hang a tire swing

Tire swings are just about the most affordable and enjoyable toy you can add to the backyard. Plus, you can do it yourself! Step 1: Find an old tire. Step 2: Secure it to a tree limb. You can secure the swing vertically or horizontally, depending on your DIY and fastener capabilities, as well as the family preference.

Create the perfect place to lounge

If you’re looking to use your backyard more for relaxation than playtime, you can make the perfect lounge area for “me time.” Consider seating, shade, comfort, and whether you expect to lounge with company. It takes very little to establish the perfect backyard lounging area, and there’s no need for pricy patio furniture, either.

7. Try hanging and free-standing hammocks

Hammocks are one of the best ways to enjoy a shady backyard. If you have trees conveniently located, get a hanging hammock that secures to eyelets you can attach to trees. Or, you can buy a free-standing hammock instead.

Hammocks are wonderful for napping, reading, and lounging in the sunshine.

8. Place lounging lawn chairs in the shade

If you like the classic poolside feel, choose a few lawn chairs. Lawn chairs are worth investing in, so choose chairs based on quality, not just price.

9. Construct a shady patio pergola

When you want more shade in your backyard, you can build it. Extend an awning from the roof or edge of your home, or grab a pergola (a free-standing four-posted structure) that can be wrapped in curtains or lattice to create shade. For a more affordable and temporary option, shade tents make the perfect shade. 

Build a backyard sports stadium

With sports fans or energetic children in the house, you can benefit from your own backyard sports stadium — complete with seating for spectators. Playing a little ball can help your family deal with extra energy, work out anxiety, and stay fit at home all summer long.

10. Set up patio basketball hoops

Basketball hoops pair perfectly with your patio pavement. You can hang a hoop from the side of your house, from the garage, or set up a free-standing hoop instead. Pro tip: with a free-standing hoop, be careful that the stand doesn’t collect water, which can attract mosquitoes. 

11. Put together soccer goals

Another easy and affordable way to improve a grassy backyard is with two soccer goals. A few PVC pipes and netting can suddenly transform your backyard into a non-stop soccer stadium.

12. Net a baseball diamond

If you want to play baseball in your backyard, you’ll want some netting, too. Posts and netting can help catch fly-balls and ensure no one needs to leave the yard once the game begins, not to mention preventing accidental damage. With enough space and a few nets, you can play a little ball all summer long.

Build an at-home water park

Kids (and kids at heart) love to play in the water at home.  Sprinklers, slip ‘N slides, and water balloons were all part of our own childhoods and can be part of our kids’ summers, as well. These are also cost-effective and easy to find solutions to the summer heat. 

14. Play in the sprinklers

Sprinklers are always the best place to start, since a lot of us have them already in place If not, it’s very affordable to pick up a few sprinklers that can be run from your garden hose.

15. Have a water pistol and balloon fight

You can pick up a huge pack of water balloons and water pistols at the dollar store. There’s no need to splurge on backyard water fun if your kids (or you and your friends) just want to have an old-school water fight.

16. Pick up backyard water slides

For an added thrill, add a slip ‘n slide to the mix! These are also simple to build or find, so you can make your pick based on size, price, and how well it suits your summer plans.

17. Play with a splash pad

Splash pads are a very cool evolution of the backyard water slide and the sprinkler combined. When hooked up to a hose, they spray water up onto a plastic, decorated, inflated pad. Toddlers love it, and older kids can find more than a few ways to play.

18. Install an above-ground pool

Want to splash out this summer? Consider investing in an above-ground pool. Step up the kiddie-pool game with a pool or spa the adults in your family can also enjoy. Be sure to look for good deals, choose your installation options carefully, and get some percentage of that expense back with the Ibotta app. 

4 ways to save even more on summer backyard fun

Enjoying your backyard is all about customizing it to your preference and plans. Of course, relaxation comes from peace of mind, as well. By making smart financial decisions during your summer shopping, you can do more than save on your backyard projects — you can also get a little money back to help pay the bills and cover expenses.

1. Use a cash back app for purchases

A cash back app helps you find deals and strategize your spending to fit in your budget. All you have to do is scan items, find prices or deals that are the right fit for your plan, and receive your earnings.

2. Find great deals and sales

Always be bargain-hunting. During the summer, stores like to cycle inventory quickly. Watch out for sales, but also do your research to make sure discounted items are good quality.

3. Stick to a monthly spending limit

One of the best ways to enjoy your summer improvements is to set a budget. If you never go over your budget, you never have to worry. For larger purchases, save for a month or two, then spend all of your discretionary funds together on one item.

4. Source good-quality used items

When you can, find used items. Summer backyard goods like playhouses, lounge chairs, hammocks, and toys are constantly being passed from one family to the next. Get in tune with the community and catch those great opportunities for no-cost or low-cost finds when they come.

Ibotta is dedicated to helping families get cash back when buying essentials and fun seasonal purchases. From groceries to jungle gyms, we’ve got your family covered so you can relax and enjoy your fantastic summer backyard plans.