Backyarding – moving many indoor activities, from working in an office or classroom to dining and recreation, to the great outdoors, has seen tremendous growth during the pandemic.

Over the past year, backyards and other managed landscapes became a safe haven for social gatherings, celebrating milestones and holidays, working, studying, playing, exercising and relaxing.

And there’s no signal that we’re ever going back.

“We predict, long after the COVID-19 pandemic passes, our yards will become an even greater part of our lives,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the TurfMutt Foundation. “The notion of backyarding is here to stay.

“Your own backyard is nearly limitless with possibilities, and homeowners got really creative as they expanded and enjoyed their yards over the last year,” “We predict, long after the COVID-19 pandemic passes, our yards will become an even greater part of our lives.”

Home improvements – many of them in the backyard – skyrocketed last year, as did demand for outdoor power equipment as homeowners invested in making their outdoor spaces fabulous, functional and flourishing. Shipments of outdoor power equipment increased 16 percent in 2020.

“Expect people to continue to invest in their outdoor life this coming spring,” said Kiser. “Many homeowners who put time and effort into their landscapes last year will be rewarded when that yard comes back to life this spring. But, even if you did little last year, it’s never too late to start.”

TurfMutt, created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute to teach children, educators and families how to “save the planet, one yard at a time,” suggests the following ways to take your own backyarding to the next level.

Invest in your yard. Design a dream lawn and garden. Consider its purpose. Don’t design just for aesthetics. Do you have kids and pets who need a place to play? Will you be hosting safe gatherings? Do you need a place for rest and relaxation and/or games and recreation?

Get the whole family involved. Create a game or a friendly competition with your family to help identify all the ways you can move your indoor life to the great outdoors. Can you take office calls and video meetings to the patio or porch? Can your kids do their online learning outdoors? How often can you take dining outside? Keeping safety in mind, can you gather outdoors for family celebrations, birthdays, graduations and reunions?

Plant something. Adding trees, bushes, grass and flowering plants is a good yard investment, but they often take time to grow. Plant as early as recommended so you can enjoy the benefits faster. Just remember “right plant, right place.”  Location, maintenance, sunlight and watering needs should all be considered, as well as your climate zone.

Stretch winter-weary muscles. Take workouts, yoga classes and meditation sessions outdoors. You also can let off some steam by mowing the grass, trimming the hedges, or edging the lawn. Working in the yard not only helps our living landscapes look better and stay healthy, but it also gives us a sense of accomplishment and control in trying times.

Plan a staycation. A makeshift “resort” or vacation spot could be just out your back door. Pitch a tent, build a campfire, hang a sheet between trees to make a movie screen, set up games – these are just a few ideas to make the backyard a vacation spot.

“Level up” nature care. Add flowering plants, trees and shrubs to give wildlife and pollinators food and shelter. Your yard is part of the larger ecosystem, so check your climate zone for landscaping options that support your birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife. Don’t forget to take time to just sit and drink it in, observing the wildlife and nature around you.

Research shows simply spending time in nature, which starts in your backyard, is good for reducing stress, boosting heart health, boosting Vitamin D levels and enhancing memory.

For more information visit the TurfMutt Foundation website.

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