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Hours from the ocean? Bring the beach to your backyard

Summer means the beach, but what if you live in the middle of a state in the middle of the country with nary a lake or sandy shores? For the landlocked, summer might mean floating in a kiddie pool with your beer and hot dog, à la Homer in The Simpsons.

In order to bring a little more ambience to their backyards, some people have opted to just bring the beach to them, replacing swaths of lawn with sand. Festive thatched-roof buildings, luscious plants, and cozy hammocks add to the ambience. While some substitute pools for ocean waves, others just forego the water all together. And considering the California drought, which has residents seeking creative alternatives to grass due to water restrictions, the idea of a beachy backyard doesn’t seem so crazy even to some who have access to a real beach.

The result of these efforts is kind of like a grown-up version of a sandbox. (Actually, some just look like especially fancy versions of sandboxes). Throw an umbrella and a couple of lawn chairs out there, find a Spotify station for ocean sounds, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a fine day at the faux (not to mention private) beach.

Related: 12 brilliant gadgets to transform your backyard into a summer utopia

The projects don’t have to be professional, either. There are quite a few DIY versions out there. One Chicago resident who set up her own piece of paradise in her yard admits on her blog that she did everything herself, afraid people would think she was crazy for transforming an evergreen into a hammock holder that sways above sand. Yet she still loves it years later, as do the neighborhood wildlife. To all the cynics: Bunnies like to frolic in the sand, as well.

Some even feature sand pits that have been made into fire pits. Please sign us up for all the beach bonfires.