A Backyard Built For Fun

illustrated backyardYour dream of turning your backyard into Party Central is within reach. With a few adjustments, you can make it fun and safe for guests.

1. Clear The Deck

– Examining the surface for split and decaying wood is one way to check if your deck is safe, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA).

– Keeping it clutter-free is also a key safety step, says Amy Artuso, the National Safety Council’s home and community safety expert.

FAST STAT > ¼ inch: The minimum a screwdriver or other sharp tool should be able to penetrate decking before you consider decay may be present, according to NADRA.

2. Add Umbrellas And Awnings

– Sunscreen should not be relied on as a substitute for shade, according to the Environmental Working Group. If your deck doesn’t have an awning, umbrellas are an affordable solution.

FAST STAT > 23 percent: That’s how much installing awnings can cut the typical indoor cooling bill, reports the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota.

3. Create A Cook Zone

– By positioning your grill well away from deck railings, furnishings and overhanging eaves and tree branches you avoid causing one of 8,900 home fires annually started by grills, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

FAST STAT > Charcoal grills contribute to a lower number of fires than gas grills, reports the NFPA. That’s because sometimes people turn gas grills on, but don’t light them immediately, which can lead to dangerous buildup.

4. Make It Kid (And) Pet-Friendly

– Surround your pool with fencing that is at least four feet high and has a self-closing, self-latching gate, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

– Create a tick barrier by laying a three-foot-wide barrier of wood chips or rocks between recreational areas of the yard and any wooded terrain it borders.

FAST STAT > 1,200oF: The temperature of a typical handheld sparkler—the kind that caused 28 percent of fireworks injuries in 2011, the latest reporting period available from the NFPA.

5. Light The Way

– Solar-powered path lights illuminate walkways without adding a fire hazard for older guests, kids and pets.

6. Plant Trees

– Deciduous trees shading the east- and west-facing sides of the house can cut the indoor cooling bill by 25 percent, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Those spots are typically where the sun shines strongest in the morning and afternoon.

FAST STAT > 10: The number of air conditioners you’d need to run to equal the net cooling effect of one healthy, well-positioned shade tree on your home’s interior, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Enjoy 24/7 peace of mind by getting homeowners insurance from GEICO.

Looking for more ways to spruce up your home? Try these 8 home makeover projects this weekend.

By Kelly Beamon

Illustration by Nayeon Lee

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  1. Véronique Cartier says

    Great tips! I think planting trees not only helps with cooling your home, like you stated, but who doesn’t love trees in their yard? Thanks for sharing!