Years ago, the ideal backyard included a patio set, a pool, and maybe a cool water slide.

Today, the backyard is prime real estate for an inviting outdoor living space. That’s right—homeowners are dreaming big when it comes to designing their backyards, and they aren’t shy about turning those dreams into realities. From thriving gardens to water fountains, the sky’s the limit for homeowners who love spending time outdoors.

With so many trends and potential designs, it can be difficult to determine how to landscape your yard. To help you get an idea of how you might want to decorate, here are the most popular outdoor design elements:

Gardens
Nowadays, everyone is putting their green thumb to use and growing their own gardens. But it’s not only plants and flowers they’re growing—many are planting fruit and vegetable gardens as well.

Fire Pits
There’s no better way to spend a beautiful summer night than sitting with your friends and loved ones around a fire pit. And depending on what you use to fuel the fire, you might even be able to use it to roast marshmallows and make everyone’s favorite summer snack: s’mores.

Outdoor Kitchens
For many homebuyers, simply owning a grill isn’t enough. They’re investing in entire outdoor (covered) kitchens, complete with a sink, refrigerator, built-in barbeque, and more. One helpful tip for all you chefs out there—invest in stainless-steel appliances, which will fare better in various weather.

Patios and Awnings
A covered patio and awning allows homeowners to enjoy their outdoor living space in most weather situations, so you don’t have to worry about it raining on your parade. And if you add a dining table, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy your meals outside.

Outdoor Living Rooms
In addition to your outdoor dining room and kitchen, you can also create a space for you to catch a little rest and relaxation. To build the perfect outdoor living room, you’ll want to aim for comfort; so think lots of pillows and cushions.

Water Features
Who doesn’t love the soothing sound of the babbling brook? Well if you don’t have one of your own, you can always install a water feature, such as a fountain, in your backyard or garden. They make great decorative pieces and will provide you with the perfect nature soundtrack.

Bars
If you don’t have enough room for an outdoor kitchen, you might want to consider a backyard bar to entertain guests. If anything, it’ll save multiple trips in and out of the house to get drinks.

Movie Theaters
If you love family movie nights, why not bring the tradition into the backyard? To set up your own personal move theater, you’ll need a projector, screen, and surround sound system. To cut back on expenses, consider using a big white sheet as a screen and setting up blankets (instead of chairs) in picnic-style fashion.

Lighting
Although tiki torches are still cool (and a great way to keep those pesky mosquitoes away), homeowners are getting creative with lighting their backyards so they can keep the party going well into the night. Consider LED and low-voltage lights, or string lights and lanterns to add some character to your yard.

Art
As if decorating your house isn’t difficult enough—some homeowners are going as far as bringing the art outdoors as well. Just make sure it’s covered by an awning or is made out of a material that won’t get destroyed by the sun, heat, or rain.

Fencing
Whether you want to add a border to your backyard or section off your garden, many are adding fencing to separate areas of their property.

As awesome as these backyard elements are, remember that not all of these upgrades will translate into a windfall of cash when you go to sell your house. If the primary motivation for the upgrade is your personal pleasure, knock yourself out. If the upgrade is simply to increase the value of your home, think it through—just because the family on HGTV increased the value of their house $60,000 with $10,000 worth of upgrades, it doesn’t always mean it’s going to work for you.

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