How to spruce up your backyard for summer hosting – Experts share 5 inspiring ideas to get rid of 'yard shame'

A survey has revealed many homeowners across the US are ashamed of their backyard - find out how to be proud of your outdoor space once again

Summer yard
(Image credit: Sandra Clegg via Getty Images)

A national survey has revealed that 'yard shame' is preventing many US homeowners from hosting social gatherings. The results show that when it comes to holding garden parties, American homeowners value highly how good their backyard looks. 

The survey from NaturaLawn of America found 66% of respondents would not host a gathering in their backyard if they felt ashamed of their yard. The survey also found 56% of people are even reluctant to host indoors if their backyard doesn't look good. 

To help, our experts have shared their top tips and advice for how to spruce up your backyard ideas fast - just in time for the warmer weather. 

Summer garden

(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography via Getty Images)

5 ways to quickly spruce up your backyard

If yard shame is holding you back from hosting, it might be time to transform your outdoor space with a few quick fixes. Experts have shared five ways to quickly spruce up your backyard just in time for warmer weather and outdoor gatherings.

1. Add outdoor lighting to zone a seating area

Outdoor lighting

(Image credit: Flashpop via Getty Images)

To instantly brighten up your backyard, add backyard lighting. There are so many types of outdoor lighting to choose from, so you can install garden lighting that will illuminate your yard in different ways.

'Outdoor lighting can turn your garden into a perfect spot for summer gatherings. Fairy lights and lanterns add a nice touch, draped over trees and pergolas,' says outdoor lighting expert Mike Marlow.

'Fire pits and torches add warmth and draw people together, while LED lights add color and fun, perfect for setting the party mood,' he adds.

You can find a range of outdoor lighting online, like these LED patio lights from Amazon.

Mike Marlow
Mike Marlow

Mike is an outdoor lighting expert and founder of Blingle. Mike has been in the outdoor and holiday lighting industry for more than 20 years. He advises on outdoor lighting and installation.

2. Plant colorful perennials in beds or containers

A summer border with perennial plants including verbena, coneflower, and black-eyed Susan

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jacky Parker Photography)

If your outdoor space is looking a bit dull, you can add pops of color with some of the best  perennials.

'Introduce perennials to your backyard for continuous pops of color. Choose varieties with long bloom times that will return year after year, making your space more inviting,' says garden designer Laura Janney.

There are even part-shade perennials which can grow well in shadier spots of your yard and add color to darker areas.

Shop perennial mixes online, like this beautiful freesia and ranunculus blend from

Laura Janney
Laura Janney

Laura is the Founder and Owner of The Inspired Garden. A winner of the 2024 Houzz Design award, Laura has over 20 years of experience in gardening and working with clients designing beautiful gardens. With multiple courses under her belt, Laura would make a great resource on all things gardening.

3. Get weeding to neaten overgrown areas

Pulling weeds out of gravel by hand

(Image credit: Getty/pablo_rodriguez1)

An easy way to make your backyard look neater is by tackling weeding. Whether you need to remove weeds from pavers or get rid of weeds elsewhere, getting on top of this garden task will give your yard a tidier look.

'Untended, messy landscaping can be unsightly. Regular maintenance, such as weeding once a week, prevents the build-up of weeds, making the task less daunting over time,' says Laura.

Make sure you're equipped with the essential gardening tools to get this done, like this weed puller tool from Amazon.

Of course, some plants that are considered weeds can also look nice and help the wildlife in your yard, such as flowering weeds for pollinators.

4. Add shaded areas to keep guests comfortable

Outdoor seating

(Image credit: PaulMaguire via Getty Images)

If you don't already have a lot of garden shade and have a particularly sunny backyard, it can be a good idea to add shaded areas so that your yard can be enjoyed even when it's hot.

'For areas that get a lot of sun, add some shade to make relaxing outdoors more enjoyable,' says Laura. 'Oversized umbrellas and shade sails are effective for keeping cool and comfortable,' she adds.

You can style umbrellas in your seating areas to enhance the space and add an outdoor living room feel. There are plenty of garden umbrellas online to suit different backyard styles, like this patio umbrella from Amazon.

If you want something with a bit more of an intentional look, you can add pergola shade and design a pergola area to host your guests.

5. Tidy your trees to let in more natural light

Garden tree

(Image credit: Tom Merton via Getty Images)

Whether you have trees for privacy or trees for shade growing in your yard, keeping them tidy can quickly uplift your outdoor space.

'Healthy trees make a big difference. Trim any overgrown branches that might block sunlight or seating areas' says Evan Torchio, tree expert and CEO of Tree Mender.

'It'll also let more air circulate, keeping things cool and comfortable for your guests,' he adds.

You can also grow low-maintenance trees in pots to place on your patios and green up your seating areas.

Keep on top of tree maintenance with tools like these loppers from Amazon.

Evan Torchio
Evan Torchio

Evan Torchio is a plant expert and the CEO and Founder of Tree Menders. He earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry and is a member of the International Society of Arboriculture. Evan provides advice on indoor and outdoor plants.


How do I give my yard a makeover on a budget?

There are lots of ways to give your backyard a makeover without spending lots of money. You can try bringing soft furnishings, like cushions and rugs, outdoors during summer to create an outdoor living room on your patio. You can also plant bright perennials that will return each year for pops of color. Growing a vegetable garden can also help add interest to your yard and save you money by growing your own crops. No matter what outdoor look you want to create, there are many backyard ideas on a budget to explore.

Get rid of your yard shame by quickly sprucing up your backyard ready for spring and summer hosting. Whether you want to enhance your seating area or tidy up your planting, just a few changes can make you feel proud of your yard once again. 

If you want to do a bit more to change up your yard, explore our guide on how to landscape a backyard and design the garden of your dreams.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.