Create a staycation in your own backyard

By: Kara Szymanski | Metro | Published July 27, 2022

 A backyard vacation can be a fun way to spend time together and build new memories as a family.

A backyard vacation can be a fun way to spend time together and build new memories as a family.

Photo provided by TurfMutt Foundation


METRO DETROIT — With rising gas prices, COVID-19, food becoming more expensive and more people working at home, sometimes it’s easier to just stay home and create a vacation in your very own yard.

The backyard can be a spot to relax, recharge and gather as a family.

A good way to start is to make a backyard staycation plan. Put together a mixture of activities that your family will enjoy, such as dining, camping and games, and decide where activities will occur in the yard.

Kris Kiser, president of the TurfMutt Foundation, which provides environmental education and is an initiative of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, provided a few tips for a successful backyard staycation.

“Our backyards are terrific for our health and well-being, and are the perfect place to host a staycation. A backyard vacation is a fun way to spend time together and build new memories while being in a green space. As a family, create a schedule with a combination of activities that you all like to do — dining al fresco, camping under the stars, exploring nature, playing games and more,” said Kiser.

Dining, lounging and reading may be good ideas. Hammocks, lawn chairs, swings and picnic tables can all provide a place for people to sit down and cool off.

Parents can include teachings about backyard wildlife and nature, such as asking their kids to note the birds, butterflies and other wildlife that they see and then looking up their species and backgrounds. Residents can also put up bird feeders or plant butterfly gardens, as well as potted flowering plants, to attract birds and pollinators. Wind chimes, rain collectors and backyard thermometers and wind gauges can add interest and provide science projects for kids.

Ivy Schwartz, from the Shelby Township Gardeners Club, said you can create items for your yard by recycling or upcycling old kitchen lighting by putting plants in them. The kids can help, too.

“You can hang them high in the trees and recycle old colored wine bottles by stringing them up and putting lights in them and even put the colored bottles in a room divider with a fountain in the middle,” she said.

She also said fairy gardens are very popular. The whole family can work together to create scenes in the garden.

Rain barrels, which conserve water, can be another feature to add to the backyard, and they don’t have to be merely utilitarian. Schwartz has a few of her own in her backyard.

“You can decorate your rain barrels and put water lilies in them. They swim when it rains,” she said.

If you want to start small, you can even hold a nature scavenger hunt or create a “drive-in” movie theater by bringing a projector outside to show films on a sheet.

Now, count down the days until your next staycation.