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5 Tips for Updating Your Backyard's Landscape

Updated on September 18, 2015
Florals and foliage help create a peaceful surrounding.
Florals and foliage help create a peaceful surrounding.

Several weeks ago, one of the best and most underrated television series in recent history came to an end. I’m referring to that well loved Braverman clan, of the favorably reviewed Parenthood, of NBC fame. Gracing television screens since 2010, Parenthood featured four adult siblings and their families, moving through life under the helping guidance of their own parents. Covering everything from autism, teen pregnancy, and infidelity, the Braverman clan conquered it all—all while spending weekly dinners in what must have been the most fabulous backyard on television.

Growing up in a close and somewhat large-ish family of my own, I am no stranger to Sunday night dinners full of loud and rowdy kids and boisterous parents. For me, it was something to look forward to each week, and a way to keep in touch with my cousins that have all dissipated to their various places and homes throughout the years. It was a part of my childhood, wrapped in outdoor barbeques, potluck style dinners, and the occasional plucking of an artichoke (if they were in season). Of course, our backyard dinners were not done in the same flash and vintage place-settings as those of the Bravermans, but when it gets right down to it, there’s just something about an outdoor meal, served in the surroundings of those you love.

With spring only days away, and summer quickly on the horizon, backyard dinners are about to begin again, and with a few tips, you too can be dining like the Bravermans.

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Embrace the Rustic

If you’ve seen Parenthood, then it’ll come as no surprise when I say that to really achieve the loveliness of their home, you’ll need to fully embrace the rustic. Everything about their backyard, home, and even cars is glaring with rustic charm and intrigue. For your table, depending on the size of your own family, consider investing in a farm table. Full of vintage appeal, you can purchase your own farm table from your local Pottery Barn, or search online for a DIY project for you and your family. If you’re tight on time and money, purchase two mismatched tables to create length, and visual appeal. Similarly, to really nail the Parenthood feel, head to your local thrift or home good store and mix and match your chairs. For the true Braverman at heart, choose chairs that typically belong for indoor seating, to bring comfort and intrigue to your own backyard. Another option, is investing in bench style seating to go along with your farm table, though be warned that this limits the amount of moving a person is able to do at dinner.

Set the Table

After you’ve chosen your table, decide whether or not you want a tablecloth. Find something with floral charm, or even an old sheet. To add an extra pop of rustic charm, try using a burlap table runner and adding hurricane lanterns filled with candles to provide light to your meal. Once you’ve settled on what you want to cover your table with, invest in brightly colored plates: burnt oranges and teal are different and when mixed are surprisingly pleasant to the eyes. Keep your glasses simple; goblet style wine glasses and Mason jars are both chic and in style. Finally, set the table with fresh bouquets of flowers. Find flowers that are in season from your local farmers market to provide the best floral landscaping to your table.

Mason jars are great alternatives to vases or glasses.
Mason jars are great alternatives to vases or glasses.

Light It Up

Long are the days passed when the only form of outdoor lighting belonged to the tiki-torches. These days, outdoor lighting has become chicer and more versatile than ever before. My own family uses a set of white globe lanterns that we have hung from various tree branches in the yard, which we've mixed with globe string lights that are draped, rather than pulled taut, over the dining area. If you’re able to afford it, invest in a piece of art, such as a chandelier made from recycled wine bottles. These can run a bit pricey, however, and can be difficult to duplicate without the necessary tools, so for a less costly option consider creating your own interesting light piece, by using the ever-popular Mason jars. Many sites now offer DIY tutorials on Mason jar lighting and at a fraction of the cost of a wine bottle chandelier. Not in the mood to make the lights yourself? Head to your local Target after the holidays and find white lights to string up for less than their normal price.

Lanterns add charm and and wonder to an otherwise plain backyard.
Lanterns add charm and and wonder to an otherwise plain backyard.

Rug Amuck

This idea is a little kooky, and a little out there, and to be honest something that I had never thought of before watching Parenthood. Adding patterned rugs to your outdoor space makes it both bohemian and modern at the same time. Find two or three rugs that all share a common shade and that will hold up to weather exposure. Rugs made of synthetic fibers (such as acrylic) will hold up outdoors much better than natural rugs. If you’re concerned about your outdoor carpeting, pull it in after use or when inclement weather happens.

Lush and Plush

Creating the ideal backyard space in your home requires more than a cleverly decorated table. Ensure that the landscape of your backyard is filled with lush plants and flowers to help the space become more inviting. Using a variety of terra-cotta pots, plant ferns, and decorative plants, and frame them around the center points of your backyard (such as your dinner table). Additionally, add a separate seating area, bordered by foliage for an added touch of backyard charm. If you’re able, consider investing in a fire pit and surround it with comfortable seating, plush blankets, and cushiony pillows for an added source of entertainment and warmth.

How To Build A Rustic Outdoor Table

My obsession with the Braverman family, while not solely my own, is entirely real. From the large, robust personalities, to the way that they always care for one another, the desire to recreate their most beloved time together only makes sense. And with just a few touches here and there of added charm, your space can be taken from just your run of the mill, average spacing, to a vintage-chic dreamland. Not to mention that the look can be recreated on a budget by touring your local flea markets or thrift stores, and by getting down and dirty yourself to perform some of the DIY tasks. So go ahead, set the table, pop in a Bob Dylan album, and bask in the warm glow of not only the lighting—but of those you love.

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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image
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      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      The lantern is great, isn't it? Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 years ago

      Cool ideas, love the lantern.