Get your yard or patio in tip-top shape just in time for Phoenix’s most beautiful weather to roll in.  Start with giving the area a thorough sweep, power wash, and window shine, then spend a day transforming your neglected outdoor space into a magical retreat for living and entertaining with these five very affordable additions, likely all for under $100.

Lighting:  Lift the mood and create usable evening space with strings of outdoor lighting.   Start with basic white or clear strands that are suitable year round.  They can be wrapped around trees or porch posts,  hung between structures, or placed in mason jars to make centerpieces.  For holidays or special occasions, hanging bulbs can be covered in colorful Solo cups or paper globes.   LED’s are extra safe, durable, and efficient, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  Don’t forget candles, which smell lovely, scare away insects, and give off additional light.  

Furniture:  Wood pallets, available for free or nearly free by asking local businesses for their discards, make versatile building blocks for functional, beautiful outdoor furniture.  A little inspiration from Pinterest or Houzz, hammer and nails, and you can easily make your own chairs, tables, benches, wine rack, garden bed, and shelving.  Simple custom-fit, no-sew cushions can be made with a glue gun, plywood, fabric, and stuffing.  Add cozy throw blankets and pillows for colder nights, and you have the perfect setting for after dinner storytelling, solo reading, or games.

Games:  Speaking of games, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your local Goodwill store is stocked with a plethora of fun, interactive board games, often brand new and unopened.  Buy a stack of these for $1-$2 each, invite friends or neighbors, and you have a recipe for instant entertainment and laughter.  For a more active crowd, find a spot for a DIY tetherball court, horseshoes, giant Jenga or chess, yard Scrabble, or cornhole.  

Plants:  If your thumb is at least a little green, try growing some of your own food and making fragrant and attractive decor at the same time.  Self-contained, drop-and-go potted plants can be low maintenance and affordable, not to mention how handy basil, rosemary, or mint leaves are for food and drink recipes.  And there are plenty of beautiful artificial plant options for black thumbs too!  Either way, a little greenery is a must!

Music:  Complicated wired sound systems are a thing of the past.  To be your own deejay, all you need now is your phone and portable Bluetooth speaker or two.  Turn on a sweet Spotify or Pandora playlist for background music, or have an impromptu karaoke singalong session.  Or invite musical friends or neighbors (especially kids!) to bring instruments and play for each other.    

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