In the winter, we bundle up and hide from the cold. But when summertime rolls around, we break out the grill and start basking in the sunlight. Few things are as simple and enjoyable as soaking in the afternoon warmth with family and friends in your own backyard. Except, maybe, soaking in that warmth with family, friends, and a pizza from your DIY wood-fired oven. Oh, and you can sit around that brand new fire pit you installed, too!

Read on for five fantastic ways to upgrade your backyard for the summer. Just don’t get too excited and start doing them all at once.

diy fire pit

Make Your Own Backyard Fire Pit

The original backyard summer get-together was a bunch of cavemen sitting around a roaring fire. We’re nice and civilized now, complete with haircuts metal tools and DIY fire pit seating, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on our fire sitting days for good. Especially if that fire is harnessed and contained in a contraption we built ourselves.

The best way to have a fire without burning your house down is to make a fire pit. You can pick up metal pit burners at just about any hardware store, or you can grab a few different items at the same hardware store and spend an afternoon creating a concrete fire pit that looks like it belongs in a museum. Your choice, but I’m definitely doing the latter.

The DIY modern concrete fire pit is a surprisingly simple project that should only take a few hours to complete. Essentially all you need is a suitable mold, concrete, a few tools for mixing said concrete, and some fire-safe decorative stones. After assembling this beauty, place in your backyard, pull up some lawn chairs, and let the evening commence.

Build a DIY Concrete Fire Pit

backyard summer upgrade

Create Some Shade

Summertime is great and all, and the sun is largely to thank for that, but it can get a little overpowering sometimes. Setting up a shady spot is the perfect way to avoid the heat. Toss up an umbrella, stretch out a canopy, or go all-out and build a pergola from scratch. Your options are limitless, and anything is better than squinting at the sun.

There are several directions you can take your search for the perfect shade solution. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

grill for summer

Get A Good Grill

What’s a warm weather gathering without making food on the grill? A hungry gathering, that’s what. Tossing a few things on the old fire is what signals the beginning of summer, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right hardware to kick off the season. And yes, that includes a novelty apron with some sort of pithy saying on the front.

There are several basic types of grills you can choose from, everything from gigantic gas contraptions that can feed an army to small charcoal and pellet burners for you and a few friends. You’ll want to do plenty of research before putting down any cash, though, as some of these grills aren’t exactly on the inexpensive side. Check out the links below for some articles to get you started.

summer landscaping

Start the Summer Landscaping

Everyone’s going to be staring at your backyard while they wait for the hot dogs to cook, so you might as well make it worth their time. You don’t have to overhaul the entire thing and start from scratch, of course. Heck, just cutting the grass technically counts as landscaping. But a few changes here, some shrubs there, and a stone path through the middle can completely transform your backyard’s look and feel.

Landscaping the backyard is as much design as it is working in the dirt. Take a look at the articles below for a few ideas on how to kickstart your new landscaping obsession.

wood fired pizza oven

Build a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

Sounds crazy, right? Who has the time to build something that complex, let alone the skill? The good news is you don’t need to be a certified mason to assemble a basic outdoor pizza oven. The better news is that it’s an extraordinarily satisfying project that can permanently upgrade your backyard with a centerpiece everyone will envy. Then there’s the obvious benefit of delicious, delicious wood-fired pizza whenever the mood strikes you.

There are as many DIY designs for brick pizza ovens as there are toppings to put on the pizzas. Most of them follow the same basic format and require the same set of skills, which makes things a bit easier. The links below are a fantastic place to start.