How to Make the Most of Your Urban Backyard + Make the Perfect Mint Julep

Transform your outdoor space into the ultimate summer sanctuary with these eight tips. 

Living in New York City, backyards are hard to come by. Those who’ve been blessed with an outdoor space as part of their living situation are basically considered royalty by the rest of us. If you happen to be one of those people, I have but two things to ask:

1: How do you make the most of your outdoor space?
2: Can I come over?

Here are some simple tips for making your urban backyard the best it can be, brought to you in large part by my friends Gary and James, who allowed me to come chill and take photos of their awesome Brooklyn backyard for an evening, all in the name of this blog post.


Grow and let grow. An outdoor space is just asking to be filled with lush life. Even if you’ve never grown a plant in your life, you might as well give it a try. Gary and James planted sunflower seeds in the spring, and they’re already over 10 feet tall! In a city where buildings tower overhead, you owe it to yourself to create a natural oasis to retreat to.


Elevate your herbs. You can’t have a garden without growing fresh herbs like mint and basil. Gary mounted his planters up on the fence to keep animals out, and hasn’t seen a bite all summer. As a bonus, a mounted garden creates extra ground space to leave open or fill with whatever you like!


Get creative with your furnishings. I love the way these boys use tree stumps for tables and chairs. I’d probably even paint beautiful designs all over a couple of them to create even more aesthetic interest.


Get a dog! I mean, I wouldn’t actually advise getting a dog just because you have a backyard, but if you have a pup – or have been thinking about getting one – having a backyard is an excellent advantage. Your dog-having friends will love you, too.


Create a cozy corner. The moments I spent laying in this hammock were nothing short of bliss. The sun was setting, the air was warm, and I could see nothing but flowers and sky. Whether it’s a hammock, a teepee, or an outdoor couch, I love the idea of creating a corner in a backyard that’s purely meant for lounging.


Install speakers. Nothing can set the vibe of a space quite like music can. These boys mounted speakers on the outside walls. If you look closely, you can see one in the photo above – I love how it’s camoflauged by the ivy! Backyard + chill music = the perfect recipe for a good night, which brings me to my next point…


Have parties. Gary and James have been known to throw quite the summer barbeque. I’m talking taco bar and everything. If you have a backyard, you might as well share it with everyone you know – it’s way more fun that way. And since Gary is such a great host, today he’s sharing a drink recipe he loves to make. It’s a nice hot summer spin on the classic late spring mint julep. “Lighter, but still packs a punch,” he says. “A tad bit more floral, while maintaining the characteristics of the original. A great hammock drink!”

Backyard_8 Backyard_9

To make, muddle mint leaves and syrup together until mint is broken up. Add genever, green chartreuse, and stir. Serve on the rocks!


Lastly, sleep outside. At least once. Even if it’s only for an hour. The moon is a powerful, powerful thing, and to sleep right beneath it is soothing and cleansing for the soul.


+Anyone else have an urban backyard? Tell us how you’ve made it your own!

A huge thank you to James and Gary for inviting us in!

Follow Brigette on Instagram, and have a look at her blog Hummusbird!


  1. I don’t have green fingers, so even a small yard would be tough to keep up for me… That said, I do love the idea of having a small urban backyard, these pics are so inspiring.

  2. Gary and James’ backyard looks stunning, it looks like a place where you can find peace and relax.
    I do have a urban backyard but my father uses half of it for making grow tomatoes and aromatic plants, and the other half is just filled with trees and plants. :)

    Hope all the FP staff is spending a nice weekend, xx.
    Child of the Ocean

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