Creative ways to transform mud for a backyard party
April 19, 2016 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm hosting a party at my house but my back yard is a muddy, weedy mess. What are some simple (cheap), temporary solutions to use my back yard for one evening?

I'm hosting a party in two weeks. My back yard is mostly mud with a few weeds here and there, otherwise it is a great space under a big oak tree. I'd like people to be able to mingle there during the party. If money were no option, I would have a temporary deck built or rent a dance floor, but money is an issue. What creative ways can the hive mind think of to keep people from getting stuck in the mud and enjoy the space? Some ideas I've considered but am not sure about time or cost include: outdoor carpet, deck made from wooden pallets, snap together deck material. We are moving in a few months, so we don't want to invest in anything costly or permanent.
posted by turtlefu to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My local hipster farm puts down mulch for this kind of thing. Anything bulky like pine bark will keep people's feet out of the mud and I can't imagine anything cheaper.
posted by ftm at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

What kind of mud do we have? Dry mud? Throw down some picnic blankets (ask folks to bring their own camp chair and picnic blankets) and then just let people congregate as they may. I think that's the best you could hope for. You could do indoor/outdoor carpets but other than a very defined area, I don't think they'll really "work."
posted by amanda at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are the roots of the tree sticking up out of the ground? Hay would be the least expensive but may hide tree roots; trip hazard. Mulch would look nicer and can be placed around the tree roots.
posted by JujuB at 6:41 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've attended art shows and festivals where they've just put down a few bales of straw when it's been raining. Leave a few bales intact for extra seating. The country theme is very popular now when it comes to parties.

You could also put down new sod.

They also make picnic blankets that are waterproof on one side. Costco has them.

You could also use cheap concrete stepping stones to make pathways through your yard. They are easy to re-sell on Craigslist when you are done.
posted by Ostara at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

yes, mulch. Depending on where you are, many tree services will happily dump a truckload of chips in your driveway for free. Our whole backyard is covered in mulch, including a large area that previously was a muddy mess.
posted by rockindata at 7:15 PM on April 19, 2016

I like these ideas. To answer a few questions - it is not dry mud - the weather here (Colorado) is very unpredictable, but I'd rather plan on it being wet mud. If I put down hay or mulch - how hard would it be to clean up?
posted by turtlefu at 7:16 PM on April 19, 2016

Depending on how much time you want to commit to it and if you have transportation for it, you could get big sheets of cheap plywood as well as having some cut into smaller boards to set up a few large areas with paths. You could paint the plywood bright colors or if someone is a quick hand with a spray can you could ask them to do some designs or big lettering. Or of course you could leave it bare. Then you could fill in the spaces around the boards with mulch or hay, so there is less of that to get everywhere and cleanup of the plywood would just involve getting it to the dump or compost.
posted by Mizu at 7:25 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're going to want to leave either straw or mulch where it is afterward. But it will break down quicker than you think; definitely over the course of a few months. But mulch would blend in better, I'd think.

Whatever you pick to absorb the wetness, I recommend you let guests know they should wear flats or wedges. Nothing other than an actual floor is going to be hard enough to walk in heels comfortably.

On preview, the plywood sheets idea is a good one. Another (potentially free) option might be pallets.
posted by veery at 7:30 PM on April 19, 2016

howdy neighbor. the answer is 'straw'. been in the same boat. just leave it in place when you're done. heck, throw some cheap-ass annual seed on top and it'll start to fill in. some mulch is acidic and will preclude any kind of grass growing.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah! When our landscapers were working on our french drains (because our yard was muddy, too) they laid down plywood to keep their equipment from sinking. It worked fine. Our yard is flat, though.
posted by Ostara at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2016

We solved this problem last month by hiring a bouncy castle, but I suspect our London back garden is smaller than your yard.
posted by Hogshead at 4:34 AM on April 20, 2016

An idea for something reusable would be some of those snap-together tiles that look like big puzzle pieces. They make them for kids out of bright foam, and I've also seen more durable black ones made out of some kind of rubbery or plastic material, meant for basements and garages. Depending on how big (and flat) the space is, it would probably be inexpensive to buy a few packs of those, and afterward you could spray them off with the hose and reuse them.
posted by catatethebird at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2016

I sent you a memail with a link to a tree company that will come and deliver a bunch of wood chips to you free. They are in your area.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:29 PM on April 21, 2016

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