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Ivy Johnson for Fatherly

The Backyard Is the Most Important ‘Room’ in Any Family Home

If we've learned anything from this pandemic, it's the value of private outdoor space. But it's not how much you got. It's how you use it.

Real estate agents shape perception for a living and the first thing they’ll tell you about any piece of property is the square footage. Then, if you don’t live in the city, they’ll helpfully add that the number doesn’t include the yard, at which point they’ll want to get into acreage. So the yard lives in mathematical limbo. It’s living space, but under the auspices of land. Ask a friend how big their backyard is. They won’t know.

What they will know — and this is assuming you have the sort of friends worth having — is everything about that space. They’ll have a name for the frog that lives under that rock near the porch. They’ll know what bushes the birds and where the water pools in spring. They’ll have strong opinions about where the grill should be and how the hose should be stored and the very best place to drink a beer.

Smart people know that their yard is the most important room in their house. Smart people know that real estate agents are liars.

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And the backyard has never been more important than it is now. Amid lockdowns and quarantines and with the threat of Covid-19’s second wave looming, the value of private outdoor space is at an all-time high. To be able to walk outside and breathe fresh air and look up at the night sky or out on a few thousand tufts of fine fescue has never been more meaningful and profound. The backyard isn’t an antidote, but it’s a hell of painkiller.

So let’s celebrate the unsung space. Let’s acknowledge that the backyard is a living space too and that, right now, it’s the best one we’ve got.

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