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Turn your backyard into an outdoor getaway

You don't have to spend a lot to create a summer retreat says 'Today’s' Mr. Fix-It, Lou Manfredini.
/ Source: TODAY

According to home trend watchers attending the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas last week, Americans will spend more than $40 billion on everything from patio sets, tiki torches and outdoor grills this year to make their deck, patio or porch a comfortable little getaway this summer. But with so much out there, how do you know what's best for your backyard? “Today’s” Mr. Fix-It, Lou Manfredini, has a list of affordable outdoor items to make your backyard getaway a delightful retreat for your family and guests this summer.

It’s one, big cover-up
Outdoor canopies have seen a huge increase in popularity over the years. But while these tend to be a bit costly, choosing one that is built as well as it is beautiful is key. Achla Manufacturing ( in Fitchburg, Mass., makes a full line of canopies, garden trellises and wrought iron products for the home. The Pavilion canopy retails for about $2,000 but can be assembled and taken down with no additional hardware. The system slips together to create a tight fit which is a breeze to put together.

Save the planet, don’t sit on teak
Outdoor wood furniture has been another growth product for the last several years. When outdoor furniture was first available, you could only get it in teak which lasts a very long time when maintained. But much of that wood came from the rain forests and concern over its harvest has created other species of woods to be used that only come from managed forests. Wittier Wood Products in Eugene, Ore., is a family company that’s been in business for more than 30 years. Their Garden Wood furniture line made of eucalyptus is easy to put together and is sturdier and less expensive than other lines of ready-to-assemble furniture. You can find dealers in your area by calling 800-653-3336.

If your backyard isn’t decked out
Patio sets come in all different shapes, sizes and prices as well. But the preferred material to set up your patio is cast aluminum. It’s lightweight, comes in various shapes, and the designs can be virtually limitless. Living Accents is a line that can be found at hardware stores and home centers who deal in outdoor furniture. They make all different sizes, colors and styles to suit your needs as well as your budget.  The table and chairs we showed on “Today” retails for about $600. The bistro set, which is great for smaller spaces or as an accent setting, retails for about $200. 

Give the illusion of an outdoor oasis
If you budget is really tight, you can dress your outdoors up with accent pieces like flower pots and window boxes. Novelty Manufacturing ( creates beautiful planters and pots made from sturdy Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a compound commonly found in plastics that will not chip or need painting and lasts year after year. Just add some flowers and some potting soil and you can transform a deck, patio, or backyard into something special. You can find these plastic pots at specialty retailers or garden centers, and prices generally range between $79 and $120.

How about building a garden stone planter without stones? Rock Lock Wall Systems is a lightweight material which is sculpted to look like stones but has an automotive type finish to stand up to the harshest outdoor weather and the design applications are limitless. Many municipalities are using this product to spice up play sets and playgrounds across the country. A three-foot planter can be purchased for less than $200.00 and you can assemble it in less than 30 minutes. For more information, visit

Heat up those cool summer nights
On cooler evenings, sitting outside your space can become a little warmer with a new outdoor heater by BernzOmatic ( These folks have been producing products for the construction industry for years, with units starting at $1000. They now have an affordable outdoor propane heater for non-commercial use that sells for $299.

Ladies and Gentlemen! Start your grilling!
Finally, if I did not mention grills. Without them, your outdoor oasis wouldn't be complete. While there are many grills to choose from, I have found two that offer an affordable option on two fronts. Stainless steel grills have generally been for those with a fair amount of extra cash to spend because they typically start around $2,000. Now Frigidaire ( has developed a new — affordable — stainless steel line with an entry level gas unit starting at $699. It’s very well built and the grill should perform well for years and years to come.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Baby "Q" by Weber ( which offers portability and affordability. The Baby Q is perfect for apartment dwellers, with its fold out features, portable propane tank and cast iron grate, you can grill the finest burgers, fish and veggies all summer long and it retails for $129.

With a little creativity and a small investment you can add value not only to your outdoor activities, but to your home as well. If you have more questions feel free to visit me at