by Karyn Brodsky
What’s the best way to keep track of your kids this summer? Make your backyard the “place to be” and their friends will want to hang out there. It’s a win-win: you always know where your kids are, and you get to add some fun outdoor accessories to your home.
Start by inviting kids over to watch a movie…outside! Ann O’Blenes, Broker-Associate, Performance Partners Group, RE/Max Dallas Suburbs, recommends installing outdoor movie screens or dropdown TVs. Audio speakers can also be installed throughout the backyard for a surround-sound effect. “The more you create entertainment outside and make it comfortable, the better,” she says. Keep the kids cool with outdoor misters while they take in the feature. “They make a huge difference in the hot Texas summer as they add to the quality of enjoying the outdoors,” says O’Blenes.
Are your kids always hungry?
Cook up pizzas in an outdoor pizza oven. Pat Wilson, Manager of Ed Kellum & Son in Dallas, says outdoor pizza ovens are increasingly popular.“There are built-ins with a chimney and there are the counter top types.” Treat thirsty kids to some Icee-like drinks made with your very own sonic ice machine. Wilson adds that there are machines that make different types of ice for a variety of drinks, including cubes and larger, top hat-shaped ice.
A hot, new item is a built-in food and drink holder that rests on the counter top in the outdoor kitchen area. Wilson says it’s ideal for serving the kids, as it has a drainable ice trough and holders for drinks, fruit, and other snacks.
As for grown-ups, “portable or built in fire pits don’t use much space and are a good alternative to a fireplace,” says O’Blenes. She adds that a mosquito misting system is also a good investment, especially in light of the Zika Virus threat. “A mosquito misting system features jets in the yard which spray a natural liquid that kills mosquitos. Simply press the button before guests arrive to be bug free,” says O’Blenes. “I think this will be the wave of the future.”
Are you serving drinks to adults?
Single and dual beer taps are popular for outdoor use. “Some are portable, with casters that can be removed when the beer tap is brought inside for the winter,” says Wilson. There are also margarita machines and other adult beverage makers, and, for the real outdoor enthusiast, Wilson says a new trend is the installation of artificial grass, especially to create a putting green.
There is a myriad of options for gadgets and devices to create the backyard of your dreams and attract guests, both younger and older. After all, who doesn’t want to have the coolest backyard in the neighborhood?