Take your Movies Outdoors

Watching a movie in your backyard can be a lot more fun and exciting than watching one indoors.

But adding a theater to your backyard is more challenging than setting up a media room inside. It can be worth the effort, though, because it allows you to host movie nights for more guests and provides the ideal setting for parties and gatherings.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals reports a renewed interest in outdoor theaters as well as outdoor social areas. If you’re thinking of an outdoor theater, here are a few things to consider:

The challenges

The biggest hurdles may be noise restrictions. Your movie night can be potentially disruptive, especially if you are planning a late-night viewing of Star Wars at full blast. This may determine where the theater goes as well as the sound system.

Be sure you have a safe power source. If your backyard is going to be a regular movie-watching spot, you may need to add a permanent power set up with proper insulation.

The screen

There are several options available. One the one hand, you can have a huge flat-screen TV under cover of a patio, which gives you the option to watch on a TV screen.

You also can use a retractable and weatherproof display screen outside or a large inflatable screen. An inflatable screen can be folded and stored quickly. Depending on the size, inflatable screens run from $90 for a 14-foot projection screen to $1,000 for a 33-foot screen.

Standing screens are another option. They feature adjustable leg heights and can be moved to suit the proper distance to the projector. These range from $75 to $1,300 (or more) for a high-end model like Elite Screens.

If you choose a separate screen, you will need an LCD or DLP projector with high-lumen output to ward off ambient light. Figure on a minimum of 4,000 lumens for an outdoor projector that you can use at dusk or after. During the day, you might need as much as 8,000 or 10,000 lumens.

The sound

If you have a temporary setup, just bring your indoor speakers out for the night.

All-weather outdoor speakers are your best option for a permanent setup. These can be pre-wired and concealed in your landscaping. They are capable of projecting the sound over a large area and can be spread around for spectacular surround sound.

When you’re setting it up, consider a built-in microphone in the sound system for a bit of karaoke if that’s your vibe. The big screen works well for lyrics and gets the party going.

The seating

Blankets for kids and lawn chairs for adults is the most common arrangement for a temporary outdoor home theater.

If you’re looking at a more permanent setup, keep comfort in mind. Sofas, chairs, lounge chairs and stools make a comfy setting to sit back and watch the action. Add some flameless candles, cozy blankets, soft throw pillows, loveseats, tables and even a small outdoor bar for quick refills. And don’t forget the popcorn machine.

Finally, use citronella candles or torches to repel insects, especially mosquitoes.

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