The days are getting longer, flowers are blooming, and trees are gaining back their leaves. With the birds chirping in the trees and all the animals finally out of hibernation, there are no better reasons to spend more time outside in your own backyard.
Together with our friends at This Old House, we scouted a selection of great outdoor living products—from grills to patio furniture to backyard ornaments to lighting—that let you make the most of those longer, fairer days from morning through nightfall.
1. The ultimate grill for the ultimate barbecue
In Reviewed’s latest test of gas grills, our experts deemed the Weber Spirit II E-310 Gas Grill the best. We loved its high-and-low burning temperatures and its overall ability to grill anything perfectly, from chicken to veggies to burgers. The grill also features a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer that connects with your smartphone to send you updates, so you won’t risk overcooking your favorite foods. Another bonus? The great-looking grill will look make your patio look that much better.
2. A charcoal cooker for that iconic afternoon
For a less-expensive grill that gives your food smokey-good flavor, the Weber Original Premium grill delivers. This instantly-recognizable spherical grill—seriously, name a more iconic duo than a dad in some cargo shorts and a Weber—rated the best charcoal grill option in our charcoal grill test due to its ease of setup, large grilling surface, quick heating time, and affordable price.
3. Long-handled tongs to keep your fingers far from the fire
No matter which grill you use, you’ll need a great pair or two of tongs to flip and grab your food. The great tongs in question? The OXO 16” Good Grips Tongs. They provide unrivaled gripping and grasping power, both for your hands and whatever food you want to pick up.
4. Gardening gloves to keep your hands soft, clean, and bandage-free
If you're following the This Old House guide to building out a rose garden, you'll need a strong pair of gloves to keep the cuts away. These gardening gloves currently have the highest customer rating of all the offerings on Amazon, with 90 percent of nearly 3,000 reviewers awarding them five stars. Reviewers say they use the elbow-length goatskin gloves for everything from clearing trails to grooming cats to their intended use of pruning thorny roses. The gloves, though hardy enough to withstand prickly plants, are also treated with lanolin inside to keep your hands moisturized.
5. An extra-accessible gardening tool
This rake, designed especially for narrow spaces and raised plant beds, has a 36-inch reach, which makes it possible to turn over soil (even while sitting down). It has a soft gel grip that feels good on your hands and gives you greater control while gardening.
6. An outdoor planter to warm up your deck or balcony
One way to add a boost of color to your outdoor space, no matter how large or small it may be, is with a cheerful planter. This particular one from Home Depot rests atop the railing of your deck or balcony, with spacers that help it stay secure on railings as narrow as one or two inches wide. The container is also more stable than others, thanks to the double-sided compartments that better balance your greenery—one reviewer wrote it was able to hold its own against strong Chicago winds.
7. A big, comfy hammock to doze away on languid afternoons
The Vivere Double Hammock comes with a sturdy steel hammock stand for easy no-trees-needed setup. But you’ll probably want to stick it under any trees in your backyard so you can lounge outside in the shade, because, based on its reviews, you’ll want to stay in it for hours. In the hammock’s near-perfect 5,000-plus reviews on Amazon, customers praised its mattress-rivaling comfort, durability, and wide variety of colors and patterns.
8. An outdoor fire pit for a cozy backyard centerpiece
Few things warm up an outdoor space—literally, in this case—like a fire pit. This one, with its steel lattices and mesh spark screen, serves both aesthetic and functional purpose by looking great in virtually any backyard, and, due to its open design, providing a sufficient amount of airflow to keep the fire going.
9. A long-lasting lamp to brighten your night
This bestselling portable touch-powered lamp sheds light in a range of brightnesses at the tap of a hand. Its fully customizable dimming options (as opposed to presets) easily transition from a soft glow to light bright enough to read by. The battery lasts up to 110 hours before requiring recharging, so you could even bring the lamp on a weekend camping trip.
10. Fairy-like string lights for that ethereal ambiance
These cheery string LED lights are waterproof, dimmable, and help create a cafe-like atmosphere in your own backyard. Of the lights’ 2,000-plus reviews on Amazon, nearly 90 percent give the lights top marks for features including their ease of installation, brightness, and overall high quality.
11. Practical patio furniture that will last all summer long
The top criteria that sets great patio furniture above the rest: the ability to withstand sun and rain well enough to be left outside for long periods of time, and being comfortable enough to actually enjoy sitting on. This set from Wayfair accomplishes both. It comes with a loveseat, two chairs, and a coffee table, and is one of the highest-rated patio furniture sets on the site. Reviewers praised the set’s overall durability, classic style, and good-value price point make it a fine pick for most people.
12. A classic rocker to curl up in
This rocking chair, made of weather-resistant acacia wood, earns a near-perfect score from Wayfair shoppers. Reviewers say it’s easy to assemble and comfortable to sit on, thanks to a padded seat cushion. With a neutral finish, it pairs well with any outdoor decor. And, you can make sure it lasts for summers to come by following This Old House's tips for taking care of outdoor wooden furniture.
13. A smart sprinkler control system to keep your yard green
A smart sprinkler control system is a great way to keep your backyard enviably lush and luxurious. And the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller may be your best way to do so—with the ability to easily integrate with Nest, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit, it allows you to customize your sprinkler (or choose a preset function if you don’t want to think about it too much) in a way that feels easy and natural.
14. A versatile outdoor umbrella to keep the sun out of your eyes
At first glance, this outdoor umbrella doesn’t look much different from any other. It does a fine job shading you from the sun, with a crank lift and a tilting mechanism to adjust the angle as the sun travels across the sky. But when night falls, its solar-powered LED lights come to life, casting a downward glow along the brim, so your outdoor fun can continue past dusk. Because of these attributes, it’s no surprise that the umbrella has more than 900 positive reviews on Wayfair.
15. An outdoor smart plug to keep your backyard lights bright
A smart plug is essential for any smart home, and a backyard-friendly outdoor smart plug will let you control the outlets even when you want to avoid the elements.
Reviewed’s top pick is the Meross MSS620 Smart Outdoor Plug, which has a dual outlets, is easy to use and control, and is as rugged as an outdoor plug should be.
16. A better bird bath that keeps the bugs away
If you’ve long yearned for your backyard to be the neighborhood hangout for birds but fear the still waters of a bird bath will become a mosquito breeding ground, you should get a Water Wiggler. This small instrument, placed within a bird bath, creates a natural rippling effect in the water. The movement helps to keep mosquitoes away while drawing birds to it like bees to honey. (Or, you know, like birds to a water wiggler.)
17. A sturdy birdhouse for your feathered friends
This portable cottage-style aviary will help bring birds into your backyard in style. It has a front "porch" that allows any bird to perch in comfort, and a sliding back door for your cleaning purposes, allowing you and your backyard birds to live together in harmony.
18. A sanctuary for the good kind of bugs
A way to attract insects is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of backyard essentials. But this handcrafted wooden “bee hotel” draws bugs like ladybugs, mason bees, wild bees, and butterflies, and those creatures can help pollinate your backyard garden and make it bloom even brighter.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.