Everything You Need for the Best (and Most Fun!) Backyard on the Block

Spring break gets the wheels turning for creative ways to improve the backyard before summer. How can we maximize our time outside this year? Houzz has 10 ideas for turning your yard into the neighborhood hangout.

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Wooden Lawn Bowling Game

There are a lot of sports that can be taken outdoors, but we didn't expect bowling to be one of them. You don't have to have a ton of space or install gutters for this game. This lawn bowling set includes 10 eight-inch pins and two wooden bowling balls, which all fit in a neat nylon bag when it's time to clean up. Bring it to the basement to burn off energy on a rainy day. ($60; houzz.com)

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LED Light-Up Flying Ultimate Disc

Anything that glows in the dark is essential for long summer evenings. Play among the fireflies with this light-up frisbee. It even makes colorful streaks in the air when it's tossed after dark. Choose your favorite of four LED colors. ($36; houzz.com)

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Giant Inflatable Soccer Ball

This soccer ball is h-u-g-e. It inflates to 2⅕ feet all around. Supersized sports are easier for athletes-in-training to improve their motor skills and learn the game. And we have to admit that we all crave a little friendly competition once in awhile. Turn a weekly match into a family tradition this summer. ($30; houzz.com)

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Lemonade/Ice Cream Stand Playhouse Kit

A lemonade stand is a great learning activity for summer break. You'll find an adorable ice cream storefront displayed on the other side. This fun fort is complete with curtains so customers know when your miniature entrepreneurs are open for business. If you have an outdoor play kitchen nearby, aspiring chefs can prepare mud pies and other treats for sale. Note: This is a slipcover for the Learning Tower by Little Partners that's sold separately. ($20; houzz.com)

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Steel 80-Quart Patio Cooler With Cart

There's only one way to really beat the summer heat. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Our parents harped on us and we'll harp on our kids now. We all need to drink more water. This fire engine red cooler cart on wheels is a great reminder. It holds 80 quarts of ice, water bottles, juice boxes and more, which can be easily drained at the end of the day. A bottle opener and cap catch are also built in, so parents can enjoy their adult beverages too. ($447; houzz.com)

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Acrylic Condiments Tray

Healthy eating just got easier. Fill this tray with fruits and veggies at the beginning of the day. Snacks stay chilled and refreshing throughout the afternoon over the bottom ice tray. Keep it in a shaded corner on the patio, so it's accessible to kids as they play outside. There are separate compartments for five different foods, so kids can fuel up on all the nutrition they need. ($27; houzz.com)

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La Siesta Joki Outdoor Weatherproof Hanging Nest

An afternoon siesta promptly follows snacktime. If you have trouble convincing kids to nap, consider this colorful cocoon. It's a weatherproof hammock that can be attached to a sturdy tree branch or patio beam. This hanging nest will gently rock even the liveliest ball of energy to sleep. Older kids can also use it to make progress on their summer reading list. Check it out in all three color combinations before you buy. ($120; houzz.com)

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Kiddie Adirondack Swing

If you and your littlest like to wait outside for the big kids to get off the school bus, you'll love this wooden Adirondack chair-inspired swing. It's charming enough to install on your front porch for all to see and it's available in eight finishes, so you can find one that best matches your home's exterior palette. This swing is designed for toddlers 35 pounds and under. ($128; houzz.com)

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Buckets Of Fun Six-In-One Backyard Waterpark

Do you dread the annual outing to the waterpark? We don't blame you. Here's a product that may not take sky-high water slides off their minds completely, but it's sure to prolong your kids' fervent questioning about the trip. The backyard waterpark requires some simple construction before kids can enjoy six activities including an automatic dump bucket; funnel; automatic bubble maker; rainfall and side sprayers; water and sand tables. Move the contraption to the driveway and convert it into a cool car wash for bikes and trikes. ($100; houzz.com)

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Jungle Jumparoo Sprinkler

Now here's an idea we can all get behind. Parents often prefer a sprinkler to a pool for safety reasons. Splashing around on the lawn requires much less supervision than cannonballing into the deep end. Plus, you'll get a lush landscape by the end of a heat wave. This sprinkler is actually an attachment for the Jungle Jumparoo playset, but it works just fine on its own. To keep it interesting, this sprinkler has eight different water patterns. ($30; houzz.com)

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