Outdoor cooking space

Seven Outdoor Social Spaces (That Aren’t Your Patio)

The world seems to feel more chaotic all the time. In the past few years, backyards have become a place where people can retreat and find joy in good company. By designing and installing outdoor spaces that are centered around social connections, your backyard can transform from a barren land that you own, to a richly engaging environment to help you and those you love become closer. Read on to find different gathering spaces you can add to your backyard enhance your socializing.

At Simplyscapes, we believe that outdoor spaces have the power to bring people together in a meaningful way. You probably have fond memories from growing up that took place in your backyard. It's also likely that these memories involve friends or family members. Here are our top 7 recommendations for creating a socially appealing yard.

1. Outdoor Kitchen Area

Outdoor kitchen inspiration

What brings people together more than making and eating food? Food is one of the best unifiers and creating it outside adds an element of excitement to the meal.

Having an outdoor kitchen area is also a fantastic way to conserve energy in the warmer months. If the cooking and baking is happening outside, that means your house isn’t become hotter, forcing the air conditioning to work harder.

Not only is an outdoor cooking area practical, but it also makes for a fun time! Your outdoor kitchen/grilling area could be as simple as a standalone grill or as elaborate as a full-blown kitchen complete with a refrigerator, sink, countertops, stove, and oven. If you need a change of scenery from your kitchen table, heading outside to eat can easily do that while also saving you money on dining at a restaurant. Set up some twinkling lights and play soft music, and you'll feel like you have traveled somewhere new.

A pizza oven is a great addition to an outdoor kitchen. There are both electric and wood-fired options. With a wood-fired pizza oven, you can heat the oven up to the incredibly high temperatures that are ideal for making delicious pizza without adding any costs to your energy bill. Pizza ovens are perfect for date nights, parties, and foodie experiments. They can be used for making things other than pizza, as well—opening up a new and exciting culinary door.

2. Recreation Area

Play set

If you’re wanting your backyard to be a place of fun, then it’s crucial that you add spots for fun to happen! For little kids, installing a playground area is ideal. This could be composed of natural elements, like a sunflower jungle, green bean tipi, boulders to scramble over, wooden equipment, and a little water to play with. Children can spend hours on play sets, slides, swings, trampolines, and splash-friendly areas. Whatever vibe you’re going for, there are fun, kid-friendly elements that you can work in to your play area.

For adventurous social circles, you can install a ropes course, zip line, or rock climbing wall. By building some of these features into your yard, your landscape becomes party central! These recreational elements are ideal for parties, family bonding, and team-building activities.

Athletic people should consider adding a volleyball net, tennis court, miniature golfing green, or basketball court to their yard. These are ideal additions for people who enjoy playing team sports with friends or family.

3. Hammock Zone


People crave places to relax. Having a chill zone in your landscape is a great way to do this! Hammocking has become a popular pastime and for good reason. Few things are relaxing as gently swinging in a hammock, with a book in hand, the leaves above quivering in the wind.

Making this a group activity combines relaxation with fun—installing a few hammocks in a clustered area is a wonderful way to set up a relaxing social environment. A group of hammocks also opens the door to other fun activities. For example, a Bluetooth speaker can be placed in the center of the group and each person can take a turn sharing their favorite songs. Games can be played, or people can just enjoy each other’s quiet presence.

4. Secluded Bench

Patio for small space

Sometimes having a mass of people around is too much social interaction (fellow introverts, I see you). In times like this, it's great to have a social space just for two. You can create a small, inconspicuous path that leads to a secluded bench or chairs. To further add to this relaxing, quiet vibe, add a bubbling water feature, a screen of privacy plants, twinkling lights, and plants with a calming aroma.

5. Pool/Hot Tub

Pool with planting beds

A pool is one of the first things people think about when planning for backyard summer parties, and a hot tub is perfect for cooler nights and chilly days. Take these social spaces to the next level by adding beautiful plantings around them! Turn your backyard into a lush oasis, a fun splash, or a cozy place to soak. Your yard is your canvas, and plants are your paint. As you add plants around these social water features, the “wow” factor will increase and your yard will the be place to be!

6. Fire Pit

Outdoor firepit

Nothing says summer nights like sitting around a campfire. Campfires make unforgettable memories. They spark deep conversation, storytelling, and authentic connection. They’re also great for roasting hot dogs, s’mores, or other treats.

Nowadays, you can have a fire pit that’s simply a cleared gravel area to build your own fire, or an elaborate electric glass fire feature. If rustic and home-y is your vibe, that’s easily achieved. If fancy and modern is more your style, you don’t have to look far! There’s a fire pit for every yard.

7. Garden

Family gardening

Gardens are a great place to socialize. They eliminate the small talk factor—gone are the days of grasping at topics like the weather or clothing choices. Having a garden provides ample material to talk about—you can discuss what’s blooming or producing, or discuss gardening fails and brainstorm solutions.

Gardening with other people also provides a perfect place for developing friendship. When your head is down and you’re pulling weeds near each other, real conversation somehow flows naturally. Harvesting produce is a great way to involve children in your landscape and help them feel connected to you and your yard. If you have picky eaters, help them to grow some of their own food. Their curiosity and attachment to the plant they've will likely motivate them to eat it! Working in the soil will also naturally boost your serotonin levels, which makes you happier and more likely to have positive social interactions outside your garden.

 Make your life better outside

The last few years have been full of uncertainty and stress. Having places to be outside, in the open air, where you can retreat and socialize with the people that really matter to you—that matters. It matters now, more than it ever has before. By adding some of these social spaces to your yard, you can create intentional places to foster relationships, make memories, and just have some good, old-fashioned fun. As you spend more and more time in your social spaces, you will see how they can enrich your life and improve your connectedness with the people and world around you.