Living in perpetually sunny California means you tend to spend a lot of time outdoors. Much of that time is spent in your own backyard, but is the space outside your back door really all it could be?

If you are tired of living with a boring backyard, now is as good a time as any to make some improvements. You do not have to spend a fortune to make your outdoor living space look like a million bucks. In fact, some of the best improvements are also the least expensive. Here are some simple ways to make your backyard a thing of beauty and a gathering spot for family and friends.

#1. A Fire Pit or Outdoor Heater

With this simple improvement, you can transform your backyard from a summer space to a year-round gathering place. Even when the temperate SoCal weather is turning chillier, you can gather around your outdoor heater or fire pit and enjoy some quality time in the great outdoors.

This simple backyard upgrade is also one of the least expensive you can do. If you have a few hundred dollars and some extra time, you can install your new heat source in a couple of hours. Once it is in place, you can enjoy your newly heated outdoor space all year long.

#2. A Cozy Gazebo

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway with your partner or a fun gathering space for your friends, you cannot go wrong with a gazebo. A gazebo is the perfect addition to your backyard, and one that will get lots of use throughout the years.

If you are the handy type, you can build your own gazebo using a few simple materials. If you would rather not build your own, you can purchase a ready-made gazebo and have it installed in just an hour or two.

#3. An Outdoor Kitchen

Everyone loves to cook on the grill when the sun is shining, but with an outdoor kitchen and dining area, you can eat in the great outdoors as well. If you have a grill, you already have the makings of a great outdoor kitchen, and you can make your exterior cooking space as simple or as elaborate as you like.

You can start with additions that turn your grill into a full outdoor cooking space, complete with cabinets to hold all the essentials and even a mini fridge to keep some cold beers and sodas on hand. If you want something a bit more elaborate, you can set up a screened area for your guests to eat in or a stylish picnic table for your backyard cookouts.

#4. A Pond or Fountain

Nothing makes a backyard pop quite like a water feature, and adding one is easier than you might think. If you have always wanted a water element in your backyard, why not make this the year you finally do it?

You can buy a pre-made pond form from a pool supplier or aquatic center, complete with lining, pump and everything else you need. From there, it is simply a matter of digging the hole and putting the pond and accessories in place. Once everything is running smoothly, you can add some colorful fish, put in some aquatic plants and enjoy the beauty of nature.

A fountain is another great choice for sprucing up your backyard. You can combine a fountain with your pond or set it up as a standalone structure. No matter which option you choose, you will love your new backyard.

#5. A She (or He or They) Shed

Everyone needs a private place to get away from it all. That is why “man caves” became such a thing. In recent years, however, so-called “she sheds” have come onto the scene. These resplendent getaways are all the rage these days, and the backyard is the perfect location for these private spaces.

Your she-shed does not have to be gender-specific, however. Feel free to build your own personal space in the backyard. For people of any & every gender identity, this unique living space is a wonderful addition to your outdoor living space.

If you love to spend time outdoors but hate your boring backyard, now is the time to shake things up. With a few simple additions and a couple thousand dollars of investment, you can transform your old living space into something new and exciting.