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I’m not an outdoors person. In fact, when someone mentions camping, I’m the first to ask to if the trees will have wifi.
This isn’t a great thing. Even worse, it’s starting to rub off on the kids. They’d rather watch television or play video games when they aren’t in school or karate. My wife realized that this needs to change this summer. Rather than try to make grand changes, she’s helped make some small ones.
The first thing she did was buy 7 Adirondack chairs. (I don’t know the logic behind seven, but it is .) Adirondack chairs are common in beach towns like ours. She put them around an old fire pit that we never used. Suddenly we were making s’mores a couple of nights a week. I found myself going out to read for 15-20 minutes a day.
Then for my birthday, she got me this inflatable 6-Person hot tub spa. We have a friend who got one last year and everyone loved it. Before we could set it up, my wife was deployed to get vaccines in people’s arms. She got back about 10 days ago and set it up last week.
Now that I’m more comfortable in the backyard, I’m suddenly full of ideas on how to make it a summer paradise. Yes, it’s going to cost some money, but I think I can give you some tips to get the most for your money.
Top 5 Backyard Buys for Your Summer Splurge
I’ve been wanting to set up an outdoor movie night for some time. We’ve got a good yard for it. The kids are getting old enough for sleepovers. (They may be too young to be eligible for vaccine this summer, but we could still something outside.) The idea of watching a movie from a hot tub seems perfect.
- Inflatable 6-Person Hot Tub Spa – $750
This is the exact brand my wife got. Our friends had a Coleman SaluSpa that seems equally as good. I don’t know if the brand matters much, but this matched our deck best. Usually, you’ll pay $850 or $900, so the current price of $750 is a good deal.
There aren’t a lot of reviews on this particular listing, but the same product has 800+ Amazon reviews on this listing. I can’t say much here that you won’t read there.
Pros: Low cost and ease of installation. A standard spa can cost thousands of dollars and may require professional plumbing and electricity.
Cons: It can’t be used under 40 degrees. We can mostly use it between April and October in Rhode Island.
- Epson Home Cinema 2150 Projector 1080p (Refurbished) – $499
I bought this earlier this week and I’m waiting for it to arrive. For this reason, I can’t give you a review. However, the Wirecutter gave the Epson 2250 runner up for best projector under $1000. The Epson 2250 is a newer update to the 2150, but they seem to be very similar. I think the biggest change is the addition of Android TV to the 2250. As CNET says: “[The Epson 2250] improves upon just about everything we liked with last year’s Home Cinema 2150, though not in any way that’s significant enough to justify upgrading if you’ve already got one of those.”
I don’t think spending $1000 for a new Epson 2250 was in our budget. However, a certified refurbished Epson 2150 for half price is just my kind of deal. It comes with a 2-year warranty, which gives me peace of mind. If you have Honey, you can get 3% rewards. It pairs well with a cashback credit card, which may negate some of the cost of the state tax.
Finally, we won’t be using this only in the summer. We’re in a (very slow) process of finishing our basement. This projector (and the screen mentioned below) could pair down there in the winter months. This way the money wouldn’t be for a projector that is only used a few times a year.
- Roku Ultra – $70
The Roku Ultra is the top-of-the-line Roku product. It’s usually $100, but I think they are discounting it for Father’s Day or because they are releasing new hardware soon. I’ll be pairing this with the projector, but for now, it replaces the 2014 Amazon Fire Stick in our bedroom. If car engines are judged by horsepower, that Fire Stick should be judged by abacus power. It takes a week to navigate the interface. The Roku Ultra is the opposite with the fastest processor and the most memory.
Maybe the Roku Ultra was overkill, but I hated the 2014 Fire Stick that much. So far, I am really enjoying the voice navigation. I also like that my wife can sleep and I can watch TV and listen through the headphone jack in the remote. The kids are excited that they can quickly and easily get to any of our streaming services right away.
- 100″ Projector Screen – $55
Projector screens and stands can run $100, so I jumped on this for around half price. The reviews look great. I don’t know if projector screens differ that much in terms of features, so something that does the job reasonably well at a good price is again the winning combination for me.
- Inflatable Lounger/Hammock – $35
My wife got the family 4 of these for my birthday too. (My birthday is often an excuse to family purchases. I don’t mind since I can never think of anything for myself.) We see these on the beach all the time. I think we’ll probably use it mostly there, but
In an attempt to give you the best review possible, I went to inflate this in my yard today. I spent about five minutes running like a loon with it open (you inflate it by grabbing air and closing it off like a Ziplock bag.) I had to be careful because I hadn’t cleaned the yard of dog poop. I got it about half inflated and decided that it definitely could live up to the hype of the thousands of reviews.
How does this fit into the backyard paradise? If we get wrinkly in the hot tub while watching the movie, we can just move to an inflatable lounger. If we have guests, that’s another option for them. There’s an option to save more money if you buying more than one (as we were).
Final Thoughts on the Backyard Oasis
At the end of the day we spent $800 (hot tub), $500 (projector), $70 (Roku), $55 (projector screen), $140 (inflatable lounger). That brings us a little over $1500 in total. Without shopping around a bit, it could have been $2500.
I think we might still need to do some shopping to complete the set-up. I’m not an audiophile, but hearing the movie over the bubbles is going to require some kind of external speaker. We have a couple of options around the house already, so that could save us some money.
We already had standard things like a grill and a BBQ, but this gives us a few more activities to plan around.
Now it’s your turn. What do you have in your backyard?