Backyard Camping: How to Make it Work

Although summer is drawing to an end, there is still plenty of nice weather left to be enjoyed. Fall is a beautiful time of year when the leaves change color, the hint of crispy cool air ruffles through your hair and the smell of bonfires is the fragrance of the season. People still want to be camping during this time of year, but the issue is that the majority of the parks, public and private campgrounds and gathering areas have shut down for the season.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your camping expeditions; it simply means that you have to become more creative in your endeavors. Have you ever thought of camping in your backyard? It’s close to home, its free, it’s easy and if the chill in the air is too great; you can just get up and go inside your home. This is the perfect way to introduce children to camping as well and teach them the rules of a tent (such as no shoes inside, no fighting over space), fire safety, how to roast the perfect marshmallow and create memories that will last a lifetime.

A Closer Look

So how does one begin setting up their backyard for camping? It’s not as simple as pitching a tent in the backyard. You have to set the tone and mood of the evening, ensure that the bonfire is protected and take steps to care and maintain your lawn after the backyard tent has been removed. Interested yet? Then keep reading!

Set the Mood

The first thing to do when setting up a tent in the backyard for camping is to set the mood. If you do not own a tent, you can create one by stringing a clothesline in between two trees. Drape a heavy sheet or blanket over the clothesline and secured to the ground with rocks or some type of heavy objects.

Install a fire pit or create your own in the area where the tent will be placed but not close enough to become a fire hazard! Have a stock of firewood handy and Firestarter logs to create the perfect s’mores with your loved ones. Always have a method of extinguishing your fire pit before bedtime and check with your local municipality for any fire restrictions, hazards, etc.

String sparkling lights through the trees to recreate a starry night sky and have bug spray on hand to ward off curious pests. Use flashlights when needed as your source of light and set the ground rules for entering the house once the campout has started. Only allow people to return to the house in the case of bathroom emergencies, for example.

Keep all electronics in the house as this will add to the bonding experience and add a touch of realism to your backyard camping adventure.

Dim the lights of the main house or turn them off completely to add to the sense of isolation one feels while camping in the woods.

The Checklist

backyard camping CHECKLIST

Even though you are only in your backyard; it is important to have a checklist for backyard camping to add realism to the experience. You’ll want the following items or similar items:

  • A two or four-person tent
  • Camping chairs
  • Warm sleeping bag for those cooler fall temperatures
  • Pillows
  • Bug spray
  • S’more ingredients
  • Camping food – such as burgers, hotdogs, chips and drinks
  • Fire pit materials along with a way to extinguish the fire
  • Flashlight
  • A tarp to spread under the tent on the ground to add another layer of insulation
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cutlery and plates
  • A charcoal grill or a camping stove
  • Breakfast fare – eggs, bread, bacon, etc.


The biggest challenge will be what to do during your backyard camping excursion. You’ll want a list of activities for the whole family to complete such as: ghost stories, nature walks around the backyard, marshmallow eating contests, singalongs, etc.

You can even pick up sparklers and let your kids have a dance contest to some music while offering prizes for the most creative dance move, most energetic dancer and so forth.

Lawn Maintenance

After your backyard camping season has concluded, it is extremely important to give your lawn a little TLC. There will be dry, brown patches in the areas where your tent was placed; especially if it had been there for quite some time. You will want to pay special attention to the area around the fire pit as well as small flankers can burn the grass’s outer layers before extinguishing on their own.

One of the best ways to prepare your lawn for the winter season, once the fire pits and tents have been put away; is to give it a good treatment of lawn fertilizer. This will allow the lawn to repair and regenerate itself before the spring while providing nutrients for the winter season. Not sure what lawn fertilizer is the best for your backyard? Then head over the Backyard Boss to read more.

Another thing to maintain your backyard after a season of backyard camping is to trim the grass and wrap any shrubs or low trees in burlap to protect them from the elements. If you have gardens in your backyard; a burlap sheet can protect the soil from contaminants and offer insulation to the plants below the surface.


Seasons come and go but memories last forever and that is what you would be creating by introducing your family to the world of backyard camping. It’s a cheap and easy way to spend time with your loved ones and an excellent educational opportunity for children. Turn off the lights in the home to increase the darkness of your backyard and set the mood similar to that in the woods. Tell stories, play games and teach your children how nature is to be appreciated, not harmed.

It’s the perfect alternative to expensive campgrounds with strictly enforced rules and it’s the type of campground that you decide how long it is open for; not the other way around.