Friday, February 23, 2024

6 backyarding renovation mistakes to avoid

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Summer and backyarding, the act of taking our indoor life outside, go hand in hand. This time of year especially, the backyard beckons for entertaining, working, exercising, relaxing, and reconnecting. But those looking to make improvements to their family yard for even more backyarding fun this summer need to avoid some common backyard renovation mistakes.

“Mulligan the TurfMutt and I recently moved into a new home and we were reminded about some of the backyard renovation pitfalls that can be easy to fall into,” said Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation, which encourages people to care for and use their outdoor spaces. “By keeping a few basic principles in mind when embarking on backyard improvements, families can set themselves up for backyard fun this summer and beyond.” 

Here are the top backyarding renovation mistakes to avoid, according to the TurfMutt Foundation: 

Not considering your yard’s full potential. Your yard has the ability to safely and comfortably accommodate a range of functions for your family. From outdoor officing to al fresco dining and offering a place for kids to learn and grow as well as work out their wiggles – your backyard has unlimited potential to expand your home’s living space. 

Planting fake grass. Plastic grass offers none of the life-giving benefits of real grass – such as oxygen production, carbon sequestration, urban heat dissipation, or air pollution reduction. Real grass offers all these benefits, and it is easier on feet and paws. Also, real grass is a natural air conditioner.

Forgetting the “right plant, right place” rule. This is the “Golden Rule” of backyarding, but it’s more than just knowing which plants will thrive in sunny spots versus shaded areas. Selecting the right plants for your micro-climate and lifestyle will result in a living landscape that requires minimal upkeep on your part while offering maximum environmental benefits. 

Not treating your yard like part of the connected ecosystem. Your yard links with other community green spaces to provide food and shelter for pollinators, such as birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and other creatures. Support pollinators and wildlife by planting a healthy balance of grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees that thrive in your yard’s conditions and bloom at different times throughout the year. 

Not utilizing community green spaces. Think of community parks, dog parks, green belts, and school yards as an expansion of your own backyard square footage. Not only do these community areas provide a change of scenery from your own backyard, they are  particularly beneficial for those with little to no backyard space of their own. 


Failing to keep safety in mind. Outdoor power equipment makes big backyarding projects easier, but it is critical to keep safety in mind. Read your owner’s manual and follow all manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not disable or alter any of the safety features. Always keep pets and children away from machinery during operation, and do not let children on or near lawn mowers at any time. 

For more information, sign up for Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter with backyarding tips and all the news from the TurfMutt Foundation. To learn more about creating the yard of your dreams, visit TurfMutt.com. Look for Mulligan the TurfMutt on the CBS Lucky Dog television show. Visit us online to download the International Backyarding Fact Book, to learn why spending time in our yards and community parks is good for us, and the planet.

About TurfMutt: TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through education partners such as Weekly Reader, Discovery Education and Scholastic, TurfMutt has taught students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” Today, TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt has been an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat was featured in the 2017-2020 Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information at www.TurfMutt.com.

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