These genius hacks make your backyard 10x better — & they're so damn cheap & easy

Homegrown tomato toast while enjoying a starry backyard film festival, anyone?

ByRachel Bar-Gadda
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Close your eyes and picture your perfect backyard oasis. Does it involve cooling off in your very own sunset-colored kiddie pool (I promise, it’s not just for kids) and hosting film screenings under the stars? Maybe your idea of outdoor luxury is grilling up bruschetta made with basil and tomatoes grown in your very own garden – the garden that you planted and tended to without breaking your back thanks to a portable garden kneeler.

Clearly, these genius hacks make your backyard 10 times better – and they’re so damn cheap and easy. Don’t sleep on these ingenious gems — snag a few and start enjoying that outdoor space to the very hilt.


Create shade where you need it with a brightly colored sun shade sail

This sun shade sail with over 18,000 reviews will bring cool relief to exposed backyards, allowing you to enjoy summer weather comfortably. Made of durable, breathable, and UV-resistant polyethylene fabric, the shade sail still allows both light and air to circulate and attaches securely via D-rings and ropes. It’s offered in 13 sizes to accommodate your space as well as six colors such as blue, red, and sand (shown here).


Think outside the box when it comes to outdoor seating

If you’re outfitting your patio with furniture for warm-weather lounging, do yourself a favor and add this hammock chair into the mix that will have you and your guests swinging in sweet bliss. It’s made of high-quality cotton and features triple-stitched seams for long-lasting durability. Able to hold up to 400 pounds of weight, it installs easily using a steel S-hook and integrated wood spreader bar. Plus, it even includes cushioning for your back and a pocket for your accessories. Let the lounging begin.


Set up a game area in your yard

Make any after-school afternoon or weekend barbecue that much more engaging when you set up a game area in your yard that includes this affordable ring toss game. It sets up quickly with its easily-assembled wooden base and score markers. Toss the included rope rings or plastic rings from a distance to land on the score markers and let the friendly competition begin. Afterwards, have the winner pack it all up in the accompanying travel bag (always a good rule) to be stored away until the next time.


Let the dogs & kids cool off with a splash pad

When hot weather hits, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing like a fun water-based element to bring comfort and pure joy. This splash pad with over 10,000 reviews does all of that and more for only a mere $20. It hooks up to your hose to provide a circle of sprinklers with an adjustable height. Perfect for pups and kiddos of all ages, this ingenious splash pad will become your saving grace come summer.


Illuminate your patio umbrella to keep the party going all night

Just because the sun dips doesn’t mean the party needs to disperse. This patio umbrella light is the perfect solution to maintaining that festive atmosphere well into the night. It secures onto the umbrella pole using automatically adjusting clamps and provides bright white illumination with the help of three AA batteries (not included). In addition, an included remote helps you set timers or brightness levels.


Light fresh-smelling citronella incense sticks that drive mosquitoes away

Enjoy delightful evenings in the backyard sans pesky mosquitoes using these clever mosquito repellent sticks. They’re made with citronella as well as other herbaceous ingredients such as lemongrass and rosemary essential oils. Free of harmful chemicals like DEET, they work great when set up as a perimeter around your yard to keep mosquitoes at bay. Every pack comes with 12 sticks that each burn for up to three hours.


Wrap bushes, trees & decks in solar-powered string lights

Create a magical backyard atmosphere easily and affordably with these solar-powered string lights that cost less than $15. They come in lots of colors such as blue, pink, and multicolored, and feature 33 feet of LEDs that offer eight different lighting modes like “twinkle” and “waves.” They can be set up anywhere thanks to their solar charging and the waterproof copper wire is flexible enough to be wrapped around pretty much anything. The only limit is your imagination.


Cover your fire pit to keep it looking great throughout the seasons

Keep your fire pit in great shape throughout every season by using this clever fire pit cover that’s made of heavy duty waterproof and UV-resistant material. It’s designed to protect square-shaped pits and uses four buckled straps as well as an elastic hem to stay firmly in place. Additionally, a side air vent keeps air circulating and prevents condensation, ensuring its continued functionality over time.


Create a more seamless indoor/outdoor space using a magnetic screen door that allows breezes without the bugs

With over 68,000 reviews, this magnetic screen door is the clear answer to creating a home filled with evening breezes while remaining free of annoying bugs. It’s made of a very fine polyester mesh that keeps out even the smallest flying insects and installs easily using hook and loop tape or thumbtacks. Strong magnets line the middle seam, keeping it firmly closed, yet still allowing all manner of adults, kids, and pets through effortlessly.


Plant a vegetable & herb garden

There’s nothing more empowering than being able to nip out to the backyard to cut a bit of basil or spinach for your dinner. This organic seed bundle allows you to do just that by providing you with 10 packs of different germination-tested seeds ensured to grow quickly and abundantly. In addition to the aforementioned plants, you’ll also get to grow tomatoes, radishes, arugula, carrots, onions, and more. There’s not a more delicious way to utilize that extra backyard space for less than $20.


Keep your grilling supplies in one organized place

This extremely handy steel caddy promises to be at your side all grilling season long, its usefulness backed up by near-perfect 4.8-star reviews. It’s made of powder-coated steel in matte black and offers three mesh compartments for all manner of condiments, cutlery, and tools, as well as a rod to hang a paper towel roll. A wooden handle makes it a cinch to move around with an additional hook to hang your grill brush or tongs.


Add a collapsible fire pit that takes up barely any space

If backyard real estate is tight, you can still cultivate festive vibes using this collapsible fire pit that literally folds up into the size of a backpack. It’s made of durable stainless steel, folds out into a V-shape, and can be fired up with the help of kindling. Air holes on the side keep that all-important oxygen flowing through and the provided grate means you can grill any number of sausages or vegetables as well. Easily clean it with warm water and soap and store in the provided carrying bag.


​​Lure beautiful hummingbirds to your yard

Hang this glass hummingbird feeder on a backyard branch and watch as time spent outdoors becomes infinitely more entertaining. Five feeding ports in the shape of flowers mean that lots of hummingbirds are able to stop by for a drink with small perches built in as well. The 28-ounce feeder is easy to fill and clean and the strong metal hanger keeps it secure for hours upon hours of endless “Nature TV”.


Give pets a comfy & shaded place to hang out

This pop-up outdoor pet cage takes about one second to set up and provides your cat or dog a way to be outside on a hot day without overheating. It’s made of a fine mesh that lets air through but keeps irritating bugs out while the bottom is made of waterproof material so as to keep them dry. Hang the included cat toys from the inner straps for added entertainment and easily fold up the cage in another several seconds to store it flat in the included bag.


Conceal landscape flaws with a realistic-looking rock

Create your very own rock garden while at the same time hiding unsightly valves and pipes with faux landscape rock. Available in three different finishes such as granite or sandstone, it comes in multiple sizes such as a low boulder or a tall monolith. A hollow middle means you can easily place it directly over valves and pipes or even well heads. Two stakes allow you to anchor the rock securely to the ground.


Remember a kiddie pool isn't just for the kiddies

Surviving a scorcher of a day means that, instead of the usual splish-splash of children, this kiddie pool shall be filled with adults sipping ample margaritas. It’s designed in bright summery colors and is made of sturdy vinyl. In addition to the sides, the bottom is fully inflatable, providing plenty of comfort for hours upon hours of lounging.


Install this Bluetooth speaker that looks like an illuminated lantern

For added ambiance without the tech aesthetic, turn to this portable Bluetooth speaker ingeniously disguised as a flame-lit lantern. It features two lighting modes, a steady flame and a realistic-looking flickering flame. In addition to being easy to operate, it’s IP65 waterproof and also able to be connected to multiple speakers, providing a surround sound experience. Mount it to the wall, hang it, or stake it in the ground for a tiki torch effect.


Stencil backyard tiles to give them a decorative feel

Add style and visual interest to your patio by using these reusable tile stencils to create a whole new look. The stencils are made of washable PVC and have both flexibility and enough transparency to be able to make sure the pattern is lined up correctly. There are three patterns on offer: a mandala, flower, and geometric style, with four pieces included in every set.


Illuminate your staircase with solar step lights

Use these clever solar step lights to add both tasteful lighting to your backyard as well as a bit of extra help in navigating a darkened environment. Because they don’t rely on wiring, they can be mounted anywhere using the included screws and will remain functional throughout different weather conditions. Just a few hours of sunshine provides light all night long with two modes available: a warm white light and a rotating multicolor display.


Program a timer to ensure your grass & plants get watered

Keep your backyard grass and plants thriving throughout the year with this sprinkler timer that provides hands-off maintenance. It attaches to your outdoor faucet and features a large battery-operated LCD screen with easy-to-use functionality. Set the frequency of your watering as well as the duration, with the choice to water manually not affecting the schedule. There’s even a rain delay mode where you can put a pause on your schedule for up to 72 hours.


Construct a decorative wooden border without calling a landscaper

Create shape and definition in your yard without having to pay a professional when you opt for this affordable wooden decorative border. It’s made of solid wood planks strung together by flexible metal wire and features pointed ends on one side with flat ends on the other. Choose from two different height options and place the fence in your ground in either orientation to achieve your desired look.


Be an effortless host by serving mess-free drinks on stakes

These clever drink holder stakes give your guests the ability to quickly set their drink down while they toss the bocce ball or nail their cornhole game. There’s no need for extra table surfaces because these stakes that come in a pack of four are easily movable. Made of steel, simply step on the bottom horizontal bar to firmly place them in the ground and place anything from solo cups to beer cans to tumblers in the holder.


Protect backyard picnics from critters with collapsible food tents

There’s nothing like a prodigious trail of diligent ants marching in to destroy your picnic. That’s where these collapsible food tents really serve to save the day. They pop up from their folded position quickly and, most importantly, are made with a very fine mesh that won’t let any bug in whether they be bees or small flies. Every pack comes with eight tents in white with a multicolor option also available.


Set your plants & flowers up for success with water stakes

If time is crunched or you’re heading out of town, use these self-watering stakes to ensure your plants and flowers remain in tip-top shape. Made of terracotta, make sure to soak the stakes in water for a few hours so that the clay becomes adequately porous. Then simply fill a long-neck bottle with water, place the stake on top, and reverse to place in your plant bed. A 1-liter bottle waters plants for up to 10 days with no fear of over or under-watering, as this ingenious system allows the plant to absorb the perfect amount of moisture necessary.


Pre-treat patio furniture with a spray that keeps them looking brand new

Exposed to the elements, outdoor furniture can truly take a beating throughout the seasons. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to keep those pieces in great shape, though. This fabric spray is designed specifically to protect the material from moisture with its hydrophobic and silicone-free formula. It goes on clear and provides a barrier on fabrics such as canvas and polyester without changing the feel of it on your skin.


Save money on plants with artificial hanging greenery that looks just like the real thing

For those who consider themselves a truly black thumb, you can still turn your patio into a lush garden of Eden with little to no maintenance. These artificial hanging plants that come in a set of three look just like hanging vines yet are made of fabric. The stems consist of flexible metal wire wrapped in plastic so they can be easily adjustable into any kind of desired shape. Place them in hanging planters or simply mount them to the walls for a climbing vine look.


Offer unique seating options like a backyard bench

Wow guests with a few surprising backyard seating options, including this fun and practical bench that accommodates two adults. It is easy to assemble and features a rust-resistant cast iron material with a decorative back and side handles. The bench adds a cozy detail to yards and extra seating where you need it.


Create a cute garden pathway without doing any work

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon helping a friend or parent put down pavers in their garden, you know this involves some serious labor. As a somewhat simpler solution, this roll-out garden pathway couldn’t be easier to set up — as you might guess, you just roll it out, and voilà, an appealing path is laid through your garden beds. It’s made of weatherproof cedar planks, measures 4 feet long, and features a curved design for added interest.


Grill long into the night with an outdoor BBQ light

Keep flipping those delicious burgers throughout the night when you’ve got this outdoor grill light to help. It uses an adjustable clamp to secure to round or rectangular-shaped bars and can be rotated 360 degrees to get that light just where you need it. It features a bright LED light and is designed to withstand all kinds of weather. As a bonus, you even receive a recipe book and video tutorials to boost your barbecue game.


Garden in comfort with this portable kneeler

Numerous studies have proven the healthful effects of gardening, so why not heighten those effects by incorporating this portable kneeler that protects the back and joints? Foam padding provides a cushy place for knees while you tend to your flowers with an accompanying hanging tool pouch to keep your shears or spade ready and accessible. Flip the kneeler over to become a convenient seat or table and fold it up flat to store in your shed when not needed.


Protect food & guests with a mosquito net

If you live in a climate besieged by mosquitoes but aren’t blessed with a screened-in patio, this mosquito net will come in very handy. It comes in a large and extra-large size and can easily be suspended over outdoor couches or chairs as well as your backyard picnic spread. It’s made with eight built-in hanging hooks and is constructed of an extra-fine mesh fabric that blocks bugs but still allows air to circulate through.


Create an illuminated path along your driveway

These beautiful solar garden lights look like they belong in a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural masterpiece yet, at $40, are affordable. With no wiring to contend with, they’re extremely easy to install and charge by the light of the sun via a panel on the top, turning on automatically at night. Each pack comes with 10 lights that can be left out throughout all seasons thanks to their IP44 water resistance.


Screen movies in the yard with a projector

It doesn’t take much to transform your backyard into your very own outdoor cinema. This 150-inch projection screen allows you to easily watch movies underneath the stars with its polyester fabric providing a crystal clear viewing experience accommodating 4K and 1080 HD formats. Mount or hang it in many different ways with the included hooks and ropes and store it away with no fear of damage from creasing.


Maintain privacy with an artificial ivy screen

Love hanging out in your backyard but not loving looks from your neighbors? If a hedge doesn’t exist you can still affordably create that oasis of calm and privacy using this artificial ivy screen. The faux ivy leaves are made of fade-resistant fabric and offer a dense texture to prevent prying eyes. It comes in six different sizes with all of them containing separate interlocking pieces that can be adjusted if needed. Secure it to your fence using the included cable ties.


Include glow-in-the-dark pebbles in your landscape for non-electric accent light

For some fun decor come nighttime, try adding these glow-in-the-dark pebbles that give off an iridescent blue. They’re made of a natural resin that’s non-toxic and merely requires at least four hours in the sunshine in order to glow at night. Each pack comes with 480 pebbles that can be arranged in any shape or form you’d like or simply scattered amongst your flower beds for an intriguing and magical effect.


Organize garden tools in one neat place

This budget-friendly mop and broom holder works to get that haphazard pile of rakes, brooms, garden gloves, and spades neatly contained and beautifully ordered. It mounts to the wall using screws or self-adhesive and has three rubber clamps in addition to four hooks to store all kinds of tools. Constructed of steel, it has a weight-bearing capacity of 45 pounds and is both waterproof and rustproof.


Give guests a cozy resting spot on this inflatable lounger

This ingenious inflatable lounger serves as perfect temporary seating that’s both easy to set up and extremely comfortable. It doesn’t require a pump or your lungs to fill it, instead, simply scoop air into it using a running start, then roll to create more tension, and secure it with the built-in buckles. Two mesh pockets on either side are great for storing drinks or reading material and the whole thing can be quickly deflated for easy portability. Choose from fun colors such as periwinkle blue, military green, and coral purple, as well as one pattern that even features unicorns.


Give your garden personality with a multitasking planter that doubles as decor

A little eccentric charm can go a long way in terms of adding a bit of character to your backyard. This turkey planter is a prime example as it’s perfect for housing succulents or herbs but also acts as whimsical decor with its illuminated eyes and hand-painted feathers. It’s constructed with rust-resistant resin to withstand all kinds of weather and just requires time in the sun to automatically light up at night.


Keep your garden organized by labeling plants & flowers

These bamboo plant labels are perfect for keeping track of garden additions and their charming leaf-shaped design looks great, to boot. Each pack comes with 60 labels designed with easy-to-clean bamboo material that resists the growth of bacteria and adds an organic warmth to your garden’s look. Write on either side using the included pen.


Create color-changing magic in your fire pit

Amp up those festive nights by the fire pit with these magical flame packets that create rainbow-colored flames. Simply throw a pack into the flames and watch as the magic begins, lasting for up to an hour. Add more packets to continue the fun as the vibrant colors will be sure to mesmerize guests.