As warm weather approaches and summer kicks into full swing, outdoor activities are top of mind for many Americans. Last year, Yelp saw mentions of interior designers increase 372% as people spent more time in their kitchens, converted spare rooms to offices, and completed projects around the home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This year is all about the backyard: Searches for terms like “outdoor deck”, “patio heaters” and “outdoor lighting” have skyrocketed (jumping 373%, 263%, and 88% respectively) as homeowners are looking for more ways to spruce up their outdoor spaces for al fresco entertaining, rest and relaxation and fun with the family.

Elevated Al Fresco Entertaining

Outdoor dining has evolved since the onset of COVID-19, sparking a renaissance for al fresco dining at restaurants across the country, as well as in our own backyards. Though people are returning to restaurants, on Yelp we’re seeing trends that indicate a desire to make simple upgrades to improve the experience of at-home dining, and elevate what it means to entertain. Searches for outdoor pizza ovens increased 193% in March of this year, compared to March 2020, and searches for “BBQ island” increased 90% during the same time period; two additions that add a social and interactive element to outdoor entertaining, and create a new space to enjoy family meals.

Searches for outdoor lighting upgrades were up 88% during the same time period, as people look to transform their backyards and add more entertaining-friendly ambiance to their outdoor spaces. Installing light paths, hanging lighting fixtures, or adding lighting underneath the stairs or railing of a deck can make a backyard look brand new.

Outdoor Living Rooms

As we bring indoor decor outside, having a cohesive, serene aesthetic between the two spaces is more important than ever. Searches for fire tables, like this one from Infantry Landscaping in Atlanta, GA, have increased 76% in searches in the last year*. A more modern and sleek version of fire pits, adding this backyard feature creates an instant feel of luxury. Searches for patio heaters increased 263% during the same time period, indicating that the desire to have an outdoor living space that can be used year-round isn’t going anywhere. In addition to a patio heater, consider adding soft throw pillows that complement the decor of the space.

Deck & Patio Additions

Yelp data indicates searches for outdoor decks were up 373% this year*, and increased 64% between February and March. It’s clear that deck and patio additions will be one of the hottest home trends of the summer, as searches for these features are continuing to rise each month. Decks come in so many shapes and sizes, that there’s an option for almost every home, whether it’s a patio, screened-in porch, or elevated deck.

Easy, Rustic Landscaping

Plants provide decor, fresh air, and a pop of color to any space, including our backyards. For those who may have developed a green thumb with houseplants this year, greenhouses (up 11% in searches in March**) add a unique element to any outdoor space. Searches for planter beds have increased 47% this year*, and drip irrigation systems increased 103% during the same time period, indicating that our obsession with all things plants isn’t going anywhere. Summer 2021 is all about landscaping with ease: Planter beds are an easy solution for those with small spaces, and greenhouses protect against critters who may enjoy your plants as a midnight snack.

Backyard Oasis

With the ability to instantly create the feel of a private retreat, it’s no surprise that searches for hedges (up 317% in March**) have increased. This landscaping addition is a great way to incorporate greenery and solitude into the backyard without an expensive – or obtrusive – fence. Adding in hedges is not typically a DIY project.

Reducing and Reusing

For those who like a low maintenance backyard, artificial turf is becoming a popular landscaping trend with searches up 75% in the last year*. Bonus: It’s typically cheaper than grass and is especially good for dry climates. Artificial turf is an easy solution for backyards to look bright and healthy, but not require constant watering or treatment, which is easy on the homeowner and environment. Additionally, we’re seeing an increased demand for antique furniture (up 30% this spring from March 2020 and up 34% from March 2019) , perhaps influenced by more intentionality when it comes to upcycling clothing, furniture and materials.

CHICAGO, May 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Appraisal Institute, the nation's largest professional association of real estate appraisers, today encouraged homeowners to hire an appraiser to offer ideas about how to enhance their property's landscaping and potentially boost their sales price.

Well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes without landscaping, according to a report from HomeLight. Landscaping can make a house much more saleable and attract potential buyers.

"Just as job seekers shouldn't show up improperly attired for an interview, sellers need to ensure their property is as attractive from the outside as possible," said Appraisal Institute President Rodman Schley, MAI, SRA. "Well-maintained landscaping is particularly attractive to home buyers who aren't willing to invest money to upgrade the property to their desired condition."

A home with lackluster landscaping or an exterior in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint will likely be unappealing to prospective buyers and, ultimately, could affect the home's potential resale value.

Homeowners considering selling their property should ask themselves:

  • Is the landscaping attractive enough to make the prospective buyer walk through the front door?

  • Could the landscaping provide cost savings?

  • Is the landscaping energy-efficient for the home overall?

  • Are the trees planted at the safe distance from the home and are they healthy and well-maintained?

Lawn maintenance tips and tricks

Once all the landscaping tasks have been accomplished, basic lawn care is not as difficult or labor-intensive as most people imagine. In short, caring for your lawn throughout the year mostly includes grooming practices such as trimming, edging, mowing and watering.

However, in the spring, there are a few additional tasks you’ll want to consider performing to make lawn care easier throughout the summer months. Thankfully, these chores aren’t too difficult, either.

These are some of the best practices for lawn care this spring and summer.

Spring lawn care

Preparing your equipment Early spring — ideally the end of winter — is the best time to assess your lawn equipment. Give your lawnmower a tuneup: change the oil, air filter and spark plug. It’s also important to sharpen or replace the lawnmower blade — a dull blade tears grass instead of cutting it, which can allow for fungus to set in. If it’s been a few years, you may want to consider purchasing a new lawnmower to stave off midsummer frustrations.

Clean the area After the last snow has melted away and the ground is dry, take a stroll around your yard with your favorite rake and a pop-up garden bag. Scoop up any small debris and place it in your garden bag so it can either be added to your compost pile or disposed of properly. For larger items such as tree branches, you can toss them in a chipper or schedule a waste pick-up with your town.

Dethatch Thatch is a dense layer of living and dead organic material that accumulates on the surface of your soil. This layer can block vital nutrients as well as air and water from getting to the roots of your grass. To have the healthiest lawn possible, break up this material so your grass can thrive. The most affordable way to dethatch is with a thatching rake that you move back and forth over the surface of your lawn to accomplish the task.

Take control of the weeds If you have problematic weeds such as crabgrass, spring is a good time to get a head start with a preemergent herbicide. This product interrupts a weed’s growth process and prevents it from germinating. The only catch is it must be applied at the right time, when the soil reaches a steady temperature of about 55 degrees — too early and it won’t last all season; too late and you’ll miss your window of opportunity.

Fill the bare spots Before filling any bare spots or overseeding your lawn, read the directions on any preemergent herbicide that you may have applied. This is because most of these products will also stop grass seed from germinating, so there may be a waiting period before you can seed your lawn. For best results, it’s important to purchase grass seed that matches the climate and growing conditions of your region.

Summer lawn care

Don’t mow too low The trick to having a healthy lawn is only removing the top third of the grass blade when you mow. If you remove too much of the blade at one time, you may get brown patches and invite weeds to take over. In general, you’ll need to mow your lawn once each week to keep it in its healthiest condition.

Trimming and edging keep things neat No matter how skilled you are at mowing, to get that head-turning lawn all summer long, you also need to trim and edge. A battery-powered grass trimmer allows you to cut those hard-to-get areas such as near your fence or under your deck. Running an edger along your driveway and walkways gives your yard a fresh, neat look. It can also help keep weeds from encroaching on areas you want to keep weed-free.

Don’t forget to water When you walk across your grass and the blades don’t spring back up, it’s a sign that your lawn needs more water. The best time to turn on the sprinkler is in the early morning, after the sun comes up but before 10 a.m. Your lawn only needs roughly 1.5 inches of water each week, which is enough for the top 6 inches of the soil to get moist — if you can easily slide a screwdriver 6 inches into the soil, you’re good. Also, it’s better to water your lawn twice a week (if it needs it) rather than all at once.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.