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Scott McGillivray’s 7 Must-Have Backyard Essentials

Scott McGillivray’s 7 Must-Have Backyard Essentials

I’m a pretty outdoorsy guy, and whenever I’m home you can usually find me in my backyard. It’s where I work, play and eat. In order to make sure it’s ready for whatever I want to do, I make sure my backyard has got the following essentials.


1. Vegetable garden
First and foremost is a vegetable garden. I have a massive organic garden and my family and I spend a ton of time tending to it. It’s good for our health and it’s been a great learning tool for the kids. But if I can offer one piece of advice to anyone undertaking a vegetable garden for the first time, I’d suggest thinking long and hard about how much time you want to spend and how much produce you can really manage. They require a lot of work!

2. Seating/Lounge Area
Part of enjoying a backyard means having somewhere to sit and recharge. It really doesn’t matter how big or small your yard is, you should be able to find somewhere to squeeze in at least a small bistro table and chairs or even a single lounger. If you can fit more, even better! I suggest trying to set up a conversation area just as you would in the living room. And remember to include a little side table so you have somewhere to set down a drink.

3. Awning/Covered Area
It’s really important to have some kind of awning or umbrella in the backyard to provide some shade. In the height of summer the sun can become really intense and you need to have cover to protect yourself. Some backyards have naturally occurring shade, but if yours doesn’t, investigate awnings, umbrellas and even gazebos.

4. Barbecue
I would be lost without my barbecue. We use it almost every night in the summer and even occasionally in the colder months. We cook everything on it, from kebabs to fish and grilled veggies. It’s great because it takes a lot of the action outside so that the kitchen doesn’t get too busy. I have mine on the terrace right outside the door so I don’t have to walk too far with plates of food, and I recommend the same for pretty much everyone. Just remember to keep safety considerations in mind when deciding where exactly to place your barbecue. Make sure it’s not too close to anything flammable and keep kids away when it’s turned on.


5. Trees
What would a backyard be without trees? They provide shade, shelter, natural habitats for animals and, of course, beauty. Not only that, mature trees can actually add to the perceived value of a home, meaning that if you have mature trees on your lot it will look more appealing to potential buyers. This is why I recommend that when you move into a new house you plant a tree or two in the yard (space permitting, of course).

6. Lighting
Don’t forget the importance of lighting in the backyard. A lot of people overlook it, but a little bit of strategically placed lighting will make your yard far more accessible at night. Some lights around seating areas, walkways and the backdoor will add ambiance and improve safety.

7. Storage
A little bit of backyard storage will make your life a lot easier and save space inside. Garages are ideal, but if you don’t have one all is not lost. Backyard sheds have come a long way and come in all sizes and styles. If you’ve got the space I recommend one for storing things like outdoor cushions, kids toys and lawn tools.

Photos courtesy of McGillivray Entertainment.


Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.

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