Friday, June 10, 2011

The Backyard Beckons - How to Organize It So You Use It!

Me - looking forward to summer!

Just yesterday I was talking blackboards with another blogger, Sandy of Organizing With Sandy, (click here to see her terrific blog that I'm guest posting on next week!), and she suggested that I post a picture of my backyard blackboard. Got me thinking about all of the various ideas/tips (need a better word for that) that I've incorporated into my backyard that I don't even realize are there anymore! That's the funny thing about organizing a space, once you've done it and set up shortcuts (maybe that's the word), they work so well that you don't even notice them anymore. And that's the sign of a great shortcut! Unlike the problem.

Anyway, back to the backyard. I thought I'd go an a picture tour of my backyard and show you photos of all my shortcuts. Feel free to use whatever works for you and leave behind the rest!

See - they're stretchy!
First up - getting to the backyard. We have glass sliders with screens. Lots of screens. Lots of big screens. And kids (adults too, if I have to be honest) have a tendency to not notice the screens and walk right into them. Tried putting markers on the screens, didn't work. My screens were always bulging and for some reason they always had holes. But no more - not since I replaced them with flexible screens. No holes, and you can walk into them - they just spring back. Here's the link for where I got them. Not too hard to install either. I've had them up for a year and they look as good as when I first put them in.

the bin below is used for storage
My bar -be - que. Looks shiny right? But it's at least 8 years old. I finally learned NOT to cover it in the winter - the cover just seems to hold moisture in and makes it rust. I leave it open to the elements, and come spring time I clean it with baking soda and water. Removes every bit of grime and shines it right up.
blends well, and really useful!
My mailbox - not for mail, but for storage. When my kids were little, I stored diapers and wipes in it so I wouldn't have to go inside at diaper changing time. Now I store hats and such in there so they are nearby when playing a game or lying in the hammock. I think I'll throw a box of tissues in there too!

blends well also! 
Volleyball/badminton net. My husband designed this so it's easy to remove when we don't want it up. The plastic pipes just slide into brackets. Since my backyard doubles as a play area for preschoolers during the year when my art studio is up and running, ( the backyard needs to be able to morph into preschool friendliness, yet still be functional for my family. The net is a new addition. We are planning on getting an actual net, but right now the yellow strapping is working fine and it's high enough so no one gets caught in it when walking under it. And it doesn't get tangled. My husband also put a ratcheting device on the end so my kids can tighten it when it gets loose. So far, so good with that one.

fence in place on the deck
how it attaches to the deck post

My fence. Yes, it's in the middle of the deck. That's because during the school year I have it up to direct   my art students into the studio without wandering off to play. They're preschoolers remember? They get distracted easily. But come the weekend and summer we don't need it, so my husband designed this one. Works perfectly! We've had others over the years, but this one is by far the best. It's simply a piece of plastic fencing with brackets on the ends. When we don't need it you lift it up and move it away, when you do need it, slide it back into the brackets. Takes about 30 seconds, tops!

And one last shortcut because this post is getting w-a-y too long - the blackboard. Can't see it in the photo? That's because it's no longer there - my kids have outgrown it, but picture this if you can. What you see in the photo is a sandbox my husband built against our fence. We backed it up with a piece of plywood cut into the decorative wave shape. The wave shape was painted with blackboard paint, the chalk was kept in a Tupperware style cubbie, stored in the mailbox! After a few years of my kids not using it, I simply repainted it with blues and greens so that it looked decorative. But I'm sure you get the picture. An outside blackboard gives the kids a place to draw, with no clean up from you.

That's it for now. I'm sure there's more shortcuts in my yard - I just haven't rediscovered them yet! When I do, I'll post them.

What ideas do you have in your yard?

be organized.......evelyn

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