The warm weather is upon us! Now that the cold days of winter are in the past and vaccination numbers are up, people are ready to start entertaining again. You’re almost ready to start having friends and family over to enjoy the summer nights together. But your backyard, well, it’s seen better days.

To whip your backyard into shape for the backyard BBQs and outdoor dinner parties you hope to host this summer, here are a few ideas to turn your outdoor space into the perfect spot for entertaining.

1. Build an outdoor kitchen.

Socializing and food have a long history, and what’s a good summer party without some delicious appetizers and entrées? Make hosting your next outdoor dinner party that much more convenient for everyone by adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard. You can do your cooking without having to move between inside and outside, and no one has to miss out on conversation when it comes time to check the oven.

If you like to do much outdoor hosting, adding a kitchen to your outdoor space will make a world of difference.

2. Add a screened porch.

As nice as being outside on a warm day can be, it tends to come with the irritating experience of mosquitos and other pests. The best way to ensure you and your guests can enjoy the nice parts of being outside without having to put up with all those pesky bugs is to add a screened porch to your backyard. And as a bonus, it means you won’t have to move inside if an evening gets rainy—instead you can all enjoy the sound of the rain without having to get wet.

3. Install a fire pit.

The experience of having long discussions or telling stories around a fire doesn’t have to be exclusive to camping. You can create the same atmosphere in your backyard by building a fire pit. You and your friends can enjoy the warmth and beauty of an outdoor fire any time. And whenever you want to revisit fond childhood memories, you can use it to make s’mores in your own backyard.

4. Buy an outdoor grill.

The backyard BBQ is one of the best summer traditions we have here in the States. There’s nothing quite like grilling up hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggies for a gathering of friends and family members. And the main things you need to make it happen are an outdoor space for hanging out, and a grill to make your food on. If you don’t have one yet (or if the one you have is on its last legs), investing in an outdoor grill gets you one step closer to the perfect backyard gathering.

5. Get a projector and screen.

Most of us spent the last year stuck watching all our movies on small screens. Help correct that lack by investing in the set up for outdoor movie nights! Figure out a good spot in the yard where you can hang a screen, and buy a movie projector. Then all you have to do is make your guest list and figure out what movie to show.

6. Invest in landscaping.

A big part of how people experience your backyard depends on the plants you have within it. You can add a lot of beauty and color by choosing the right plants to include and figuring out the best layout for everything in the space. If you’re willing to make a big investment, you can hire a local landscape designer. But this is a project it’s probably safe to DIY if you have a bit of creative ingenuity and time to give to it.

7. Upgrade your lighting.

One of the quickest and most affordable ways to add some ambience to your backyard is to find the right lighting. Lighting doesn’t just have to be functional. It can be a simple, yet powerful way to make the space you already have more beautiful. Consider adding string lights, illuminating your backyard walkways, or investing in mood lighting for your deck or porch.

8. Add a water feature.

Adding a fountain, pond, or waterfall to your backyard gives it an extra dose of beauty for guests to take in. And the sound of running water is known to have a calming effect. A water feature can make your outdoor space feel more peaceful and add a little something extra to your backyard gatherings.

9. Set up an outdoor bar.

Food may be a regular part of social gatherings, but beverages have just as much of a role to play. If you and your friends are drinkers, then setting up an outdoor bar will make getting everyone refills or mixing up tasty cocktails that much easier. No one has to schlep drinks back and forth in and out of the house, which also means less risk of spills.

10. Add more comfy furniture.

For people to want to hang out for a while, comfort is one of the most important features you can provide. This may be just the time to invest in more comfortable furniture for your backyard or porch. Add some comfortable seating—especially if you couple it with good food and drinks—and your guests will be happy to hang around for hours.

Get Back to Socializing in Style

A great backyard with the right features can become a go-to spot for friends and family. Make your space beautiful, convenient, and comfortable, and people will be happy to come to you. If you like hosting and creating memorable social experiences for your loved ones, take a little time now to make your backyard space just right. Then take advantage of the updates through the rest of the summer and beyond.