While there are a lot of events crammed into our summer, sometimes the best way to enjoy the season is to just sit in your backyard with a few friends, a few beverages and a few big slabs of meat on the grill.
That’s exactly the situation Avenue’s Backyard Guide is designed to help you make the most of. With tips and tricks for everything from furnishing a backyard to attracting some feathered friends, it’s got everything you need to make this summer spectacular.
A backyard party is rarely complete without the inclusion of a firepit. As evening approaches and temperatures fall, the warmth of a well-stoked fire could be just the thing to keep the festivities going.
But, before your backyard party catches fire, there are a few things you should consider.
The City of Edmonton recommends that, for your pit to be safe and legal, it must be placed at least three metres away from buildings, property lines and anything flammable.
The pit must be less than two feet high, have enclosed sides made from either bricks, concrete or heavy-gauge metal, and should feature a spark-arresting mesh screen.
City councillor Scott McKeen caught a bit of heat last year for musing that permits be required for backyard fires. “There are folks in Edmonton with lung illness, be it asthma or COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease],” states McKeen via email. “And what we know about firepit smoke, even with clean and dry wood, is that it contains minute particulate that is irritating or harmful to lungs.”
But, as McKeen learned from an onslaught of emails, Edmontonians love firepits.
So, to be considerate, McKeen recommends responsible firepit use. If the wind is blowing toward a neighbour’s window, for instance, it may not be the right night for a fire. “Firepits, unlike household fireplaces, don’t have chimneys, so the smoke is not elevated and dissipated as much,” he says.
And if your neighbour’s health is impacted by smoke, McKeen recommends a compromise. “Work out a schedule. Maybe the health-sensitive neighbour could leave for a couple of hours — for a movie or whatever — when you’re having your fire.”
When throwing a backyard bash, the best way to prevent altercations — and noise complaints — with neighbours is to be honest and up-front. Laura Cunningham-Shpeley, president of the Ritchie Community League, recommends letting the neighbours in on your planned festivities in couple of ways. “Let them know what’s happening. And let them know that they are free to pop over anytime to let you know if it is too loud,” she says. A secret weapon? “Keep an open invitation to your neighbours. They can meet you and your friends, and that really keeps everyone involved responsible.”
Need some entertainment ideas? According to Cheryl Cameron, owner of River City Games, three outdoor games are booming in popularity this season:
This game requires two ladders with three rungs each and a set of three bolas (two balls connected by a string) per team. Each ladder has three scoring values (one, two and three points, respectively) and can be played with two to six people. ($89.99)
The “game of bones” has exploded in popularity this year, even prompting the creation of city-wide Bunnock leagues. The first team to knock down their opposition’s rows of “bones” wins the game. ($265)
A classic yard game that is sort of a cross between lawn bowling and soccer, where the only object is for one or more of your team’s balls to be closer than any of your opponent’s balls to the small white target ball at the end of every set. ($89.99 for a recreational set)