When I was a kid, most of my summers were spent outdoors. My grandparents owned a farm in rural North Jersey. And my parents settled our family in a sleepy suburban community built around a lake. Our outdoor living space was spacious with lakefront views. Even though our neighbors were close, we had enough privacy in our backyard from trees and cliffs. My grandparents’ farm was spacious. The closest neighbor was half a mile down the road. There was so much room to run and play. And there was plenty of space for my family to get together without feeling cramped. We would spend the evenings talking, watching the twilight sky turn black with the silhouettes of bats, and looking up at the stars.

As I grew, I convinced myself the place I belonged to was the city. I traded suburban space for a postage stamp property. Even when my husband and I were house hunting, we decided to live close to the city, the crowded so-called suburbs more of a metropolitan extension. We weren’t planning to have children then. It was just us and our 9 cats.

But things change. And so do needs. Despite the white picket fence surrounding our property folks can still see us. We liked the tiny yard that came with our house and planned to build a patio and deck. Of course, these plans are still in the works. But standing in my backyard, I can easily see the backyards of six of my neighbors. This may not have bothered me a few years ago, but now it’s uncomfortable when a few of my neighbors stand outside and watch my son and me playing in our yard. Creepy.

Every time we go outside to play, we douse ourselves in organic bug spray. Mosquitoes still attack us. We have no idea where they’re coming from, although we have a hunch, and it’s not on our property. The bites are painful. Itchy welts swell up on my son’s chubby legs, and he can’t sleep because the itching is so intense (we’ve tried several OTC ointments and they haven’t worked).

The point to my brief story is that despite having the outdoor space, we’re really not utilizing it into outdoor living space. Even adding a few Adirondack chairs and a patio set, the space feels sterile and exposed. What’s the point of even spending time outdoors when you’re going to be driven inside by a bunch of blood-thirsty insects?

Everyone’s backyard is different. Some folks may only have a balcony in an apartment building. Others have acres of property. And folks like me have a grassy postage stamp they’re proud to call their own. While this list won’t give your yard a drastic makeover like Yard Crashers, it will help make your outdoor space enjoyable and inviting. We found 5 products that help transform your outdoor wasteland into an outdoor living space.

Bug Out Brella

Imagine – you’re whipping up some great grub on the BBQ grill and decide to dine al fresco. You put your plate down and run inside to grab a drink. Upon arriving back to your patio table, your food has already become a tasty appetizer for bugs. Gross. Luckily, you can protect your food, drinks, and selves from insects with the clever Bug Out Brella. It uses your patio table umbrella to create a protective screen around your table! An inflatable bottom keeps the screen in place and prevents it from blowing up in the wind like Marilyn Monroe’s dress. Plus, there’s a zippered door so entering and exiting are super-easy. Bug Out Brella puts an end to your al fresco meals ruined by creepy-crawlies.



A screened in porch is nice but it’s defenseless against an open door or hole in the screen. And if you have cats, you know the screens on your windows have been used as a makeshift scratcher, creating ports of entry for flying insects. Those big zappers may work well, but who really wants to talk over the loud buzzzz and pop those things make when an insect flies into the light? What a buzzkill to your gathering. Take the power back from insects with ZappLight. It’s the latest 2-in-1 bug zapper and LED light bulb. It fits in any standard light socket. You can set the bug zapper light bulb so only the lightbulb shines, only the bug zapper on, or both. UV light attracts flying insects to the zapper where they are electrocuted with 2000V. ZappLight hardly makes any sound so it won’t disrupt your gathers or sleep!

Privacy Deck Screen

You’re lounging on your deck with some friends. Looking over, you see your neighbor, Ms. Crabapple staring at your group shaking her head disapprovingly. Talk about awkward and uncomfortable. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to prevent watchful, spying eyes. A Privacy Deck Screen creates an opaque barrier between your deck and the rest of your neighborhood. It attaches to the top railing of your deck easily. The opaque mesh screen obstructs wandering eyes, not airflow, so you’ll still be able to enjoy that gentle summer breeze. Easily add privacy to apartment balconies, too! Since it’s waterproof and weatherproof, you don’t need to remove it whenever a storm rolls in.

Ceramic Solar Lanterns – Set of 2

I love ambient lighting. The soft glow of colorful lights brings me back to my childhood when magic existed. Adding whimsical lighting to an outdoor space makes it inviting. This Ceramic Solar Lantern Set of 2 brightens any outdoor space. Hang in a garden, on your patio, or spread out throughout your yard. The outdoor solar lights have two light settings. You can set them to shine white light or cycle through colors. The lights automatically turn when it starts to get dark. When night falls take your gathering outside and relax with the soft, colorful lights.

Atomic Beam SunBlast

My outdoor light acts wonky. It only works when it feels like it. A bunch of leaves can blow past on a windy evening and it lights up every 10 seconds. But when I go outside, I’m frantically waving my arms trying to get the thing to turn on. A good outdoor motion-activated security light is essential to any outdoor living space. Atomic Beam SunBlast is a solar-powered outdoor motion-activated security light that turns on when you appear and turns off when you disappear. The high-tech 120° wide-angle motion sensor detects motion from 25-feet away. And it’s super-easy to install. Just peel and stick! Enjoy spending an evening by your fire pit, then automatically activate SunBlast as you walk back to your home. Or see if any critters are outside before you take the leap and wind up confronting a raccoon or other wildlife. You need this light to make your outdoor living space safe in the dark.

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