This post is sponsored by The Home Depot
For the past four months, we’ve been hard at work transforming our backyard into the ultimate outdoor entertaining space for our family. With help from The Home Depot, we took our backyard to the next level, both literally and figuratively. We added a retaining wall to build up our sloped yard which gave us a level space for a swing set and dining table. We also started our own veggie and herb garden using Bonnie plants, created a grill area featuring a Traeger pellet grill and even built a potting bench that doubles as an mini outdoor kitchen with sink, no plumbing required.
Keep reading to see the full transformation and for a simple and delicious recipe at the end that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. You can also check out my Instagram story highlight which documents the full progression of the space.
Here are a few BEFORE photos:
And here it is AFTER:
Who needs a vacation when your own backyard feels like a retreat? This project can be summed up using four words: Gardening, Grilling, Games and Gathering and The Home Depot was with us every step of the way.
I’ve always wanted an edible garden full of vegetables, fruits and herbs to encourage healthy eating habits and personal responsibility in our children. Although I’m very much still a novice gardener and have a lot to learn, believe me when I tell you: if I can do it, so can you! Planting a garden requires a little know-how, the right tools and a willingness to get your hands dirty.
Growing your own food is so incredibly rewarding. There is nothing like walking in your back yard and picking fruits and veggies to provide nourishment for your family.
Some edible plants grow best by seed, but there are many others that are available as fully germinated seedlings in the form of mature plants. In theory, when you plant one seed in the ground, you would get one plant, but seeds do not have a 100% germination rate, which is why seed packets often recommend planting 2 to 3 seeds per hole.
If you are just starting out gardening, I would highly recommend buying already mature plants at your local Home Depot and transplanting them to their permanent location in your garden. This will give you a headstart on a successful growing season. If you are purchasing plants online, be sure to know your hardiness zone.
For my herb garden, I selected herbs I use on a regular basis like dill, cilantro, basil and parsley and planted them into larger pots. Some herbs can be planted together, but always keep mint in its own container because it’s very invasive and can take over.
Do you eat a lot of salsa in your home? Consider growing tomatoes, chili peppers, jalapenos and cilantro. Or maybe your family is like ours and eats salad often? There are so many lettuce varieties to choose from. Bonnie’s iceberg and romaine were two of our favorites this season.
As for the raised garden bed, two of my most prolific growers were Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. I was shocked at just how plentiful these two grew in a soil mix of equal parts compost, peat moss and vermiculite.
One of my favorite things from this past year was watching our girls step off the school bus and run straight to the garden to see what was ready to be picked and eaten.
Sam and I built an outdoor potting bench, which doubles as an outdoor kitchen area complete with a stainless steel sink, a cold water faucet that hooks up to the spigot and drains into a whopping 2.6 gallon watering can to be reused to water the garden.
It’s great for gardening, food prep or washing up before dining al fresco. Just remember to use an earth-friendly biodegradable soap.
Now that we’ve successfully grown our food, it’s time to cook everything on the grill. The Traeger brand has a reputation for being the most established pellet grill on the market, so I knew we were getting a high quality product no matter which model we chose, but in the end I went with the Traeger Pro 575 model. The wireless enabled controller allows me to adjust the grill settings from any where at any time! How cool is that?
In the video below, I ignited the grill, which only requires the push of a button, then went inside to make lemonade. My grill needed to be preheated to 450 degrees so I adjusted the temperature remotely using the Traeger App on my phone.
Traeger grills use 100% hardwood pellets to infuse real wood-fired flavor into food. There are different types of wood which release different flavors, but when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with their signature pellet blend. This grill is not just for grilling, by the way. You can also smoke, roast, braise and even bake in it!
If you’re not sure where to start, the Traeger app has hundreds of delicious recipes that will make you look like a grill master.
Since we had such a plentiful harvest, I opted for a build-your-own kebab bar by putting out a few protein and vegetable options from the garden. I recommend using a pair of tongs for each bowl, but since we’re family, I just had everyone wash their hands before and after assembling theirs.
She’s so proud of her creation! It’s great for fine motor skill development, too (says the teacher in me).
Before adding our kebabs to the grill, Sam drizzled on a little avocado oil and sprinkled on Traeger’s Fin and Feather Rub. It’s my favorite blend and doesn’t contain any sugar. The ingredients are simple: salt, garlic, paprika, onion and spices.
The aroma in the air when the pellets first ignite is glorious, I tell ya.
The perfect addition to any outdoor space is a playset to entertain the kids. When we moved from Florida to Georgia, we left behind a swing set that our three girls played with daily. When we told them we’d be getting one again, they counted down the days until it arrived and even helped assemble some of the smaller parts.
The Swing-N-Slide Playful Palace set is an action-packed playset with double decks featuring an enclosed clubhouse, two swings, a trapeze bar, wave slide, rock climb wall, picnic table with canopy and even a lemonade stand!
In addition to the playset, a game of cornhole entertains both the little and big kids.
Lastly and most importantly, is the simple act of gathering with family and loved ones. The Home Depot offers projects and products to help you entertain outdoors whether it’s a patio dining table, a bistro set, swinging hammock chairs, lawn games or a fire pit with seating.
The Hampton Bay patio dining table is amazing because it looks like wood, but it’s made out of steel so I don’t have to worry about re-staining it every year or wood rot. There are four benches with removable cushions on each side and two people can fit on each bench which means you can seat up to 8 people!
By adding a wood or concrete bar top to your deck railing and a few barstools, you provide more seating for guests.
These hammock chairs are so comfortable! We’ve had them for a few years now and they’ve held up really well to the elements, there’s no mold or mildew and the netting is as strong as the day we put them up.
After a fun-filled day, how do you prefer to unwind outdoors? Read a good book in the hammock? Sit around a fire with friends? Enjoy a cup of tea under the string lights?
No matter how you like to entertain and unwind outdoors, Home Depot is your one stop shop to get it done.
Build Your Own Kebab Bar
- 2 lbs chopped steak chunks
- 2 lbs chopped chicken chunks
- 2 lbs large shrimp
- 1/2 lb mushrooms
- 1/2 lb onion chunks
- 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 lb zucchini slices
- 1/2 lb yellow squash slices
- 1/2 lb chopped pepper slices
- 1/2 lb corn cob chunks (parboiled)
- 1/2 lb baby potatoes (parboiled)
- 1/2 lb brussel sprout halves (parbroiled)
- Preheat your grill to 450 degrees.
- While the grill is heating up, assemble kebabs and lightly season with salt and pepper or one of Traeger's spice rubs. My personal favorite is the Fin & Feather blend.
- Once grill hits 450 degree, add kebabs and grill one side for 5 minutes and then flip and grill the other side for another 5 minutes or so, until desired doneness is reached. Use an internal cooking thermometer to double check.
- Remove from grill and serve however you'd like. Don't forget to whip up a batch of my Smoky Ranch Sauce to drizzle over the top. It pairs well all of the kebab ingredients.
Smoky Zesty Ranch with Fresh Herbs
- 3/4 cup Sour Cream
- 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup Buttermilk
- 1 clove Fresh Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Dill
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Dried Onion
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Chipotle in Adobo
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse lightly until well combined or finely chop herbs and garlic, use the Adobo sauce and all all other ingredients into a lidded container and shake vigorously until well blended or whisk in a bowl, adding more buttermilk as needed.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate.