How to Make the Most of Whatever Outdoor Space You Have

Yellow Adirondack chairs.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Amazon.

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As it gets warmer and most Americans remain under stay-at-home or safer-at-home orders, the bits of outdoor space we previously ignored are becoming precious commodities. Whatever patch of grass or cement you have can lend itself to some pleasant plein air lounging with the help of some simple items. Here’s our guide for how to maximize whatever open-air real estate you’ve got.


If you have a full-fledged yard, the possibilities are endless. This small Weber, paired with basic grilling tools, is a great setup for beginners. If you’re just looking for a place to roast marshmallows after dinner, you can opt for this portable, pop-up fire pit that packs down into a little carrying bag.

When it comes to seating, these plastic Adirondack chairs are comfortable and weatherproof. Installing permanent outdoor lights is a major expense and project, but these string lights could not be easier to hang, and they bring an instant festive atmosphere to your space. Add some citronella candles in mercury glass holders to keep mosquitos away without creating an eyesore.

Finally, if you have children to entertain (or want to cool off yourself), one great way to do so on a sweltering summer day is with this hose nozzle. The eight spray patterns mean you can surprise your kids with different blasts of water, from a jet stream to a mist.

Fire Escape or Communal Roof

A fire escape doesn’t offer a lot of space to move around, but it’s a perfectly serviceable place to read or eat if you have a lightweight, foldable bistro table and chairs that you can tote in and out. You can also light up the space at night using some battery-powered fairy lights.

A building with open rooftop access can also be a saving grace, even if that space is a mere concrete slab. Lug up some camping chairs, beverages, and flameless candles, and you have a pleasant change of scenery.


If you’ve got a stoop and would like to sit a bit more comfortably, you can purchase a stadium seat: a lightweight cushion that offers some back support. Bring along a six-pack of your favorite frosty beverage in this little cooler, which has a lid that flips out to form a tray table with beverage holders. And if you want to add some visual interest to your entrance, one of these handsome terra cotta pots makes a nice home for a flower or herb.

Patch of Public Park

This packable blanket or a folding lounge chair is easy to carry; pair them with this collapsible basket, and your picnic will be a cinch to transport. An activity can be a great way to give some more purpose to your outing, and bocce is perfect: It’s simple enough to learn quickly, and difficult enough to hold everyone’s attention.

Read the rest of Slate’s guide to your quarantine summer.