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Designing a Movie Theater in your Garden or Backyard!

Ideas for Usable Space

America has been busy lately, turning the backyard into an additional living space. And one of the things catching on is creating an outdoor theater. After all, there are small towns that have movie night in the park, cruise ships offer entertainment under the stars, so why not enjoy the same benefits in your own backyard? There’s nothing that will bring family and friends together, gathered around the fire pit, than watching the big game or maybe that romantic movie (possibly from the hot tub) outside, under the stars (old-timers can remember the fun of going to those drive-ins as a youngster).

You have a multitude of options when designing your outdoor theater. Do you go as simple as using an outdoor projector and a bed sheet against a wall, or do you go all out with a weatherproof outdoor entertainment system? Either way here are some ideas to consider.

Seating & Lighting Options

Are you going to use folding lawn chairs, beanbag chairs, or do you want to just throw some blankets and outdoor cushions on the ground? Whatever choice you make will work just fine. A slightly different seating option is to have a few pieces of logs to sit on (long shows may require cushions on top of the logs for added comfort), or you can even use some bales of straw as seats. For lighting, you will want some soft, decorative solar lighting to show the way once the movie is over and the projector is turned off. It gets dark out there!

Choose Plants with a Fragrance

You want your backyard to look nice, but who can see the flowers after dark? Instead opt for plants that release their fragrances after dark. Plant beds or pots with flowers like star jasmine, rosemary, or petunias. Also it’s a good idea to select some plants with silvery leaves to reflect the light from the screen. Lamb’s Ears and Blue Fescue are two examples.

Screen Placement

If you opt to go with the simple bed sheet idea, almost any flat surface will do. You can use the wall of your home or maybe a tall privacy fence. You can even bring out a piece of plywood to hang the bed sheet on. That way you can always store it away until the next movie night.

Another idea is to install a pull-down screen on a pergola or trellis. If money is no object, they make inflatable movie screens. These inflatable screens can be set up and taken down in minutes, and come in sizes from 9 feet to 40 feet (this would be like going to the old-fashioned drive-in). The only issue is price, these screens can start around just a few hundred dollars and quickly reach into the thousands.

Finishing Touches

Don’t forget the cool drinks and snacks like popcorn. Add an outdoor beverage cooler so that nobody has to run back inside . If you decide to add a fire pit to your backyard, you will have somewhere to make those ever-popular S’Mores. With an outdoor theater, your backyard can be enjoyed after dark as well as during the day.


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