Before you start investing time and money extending the range of your WLAN, you need to determine two things: where you already have connectivity and where you want connectivity. You may already have adequate signal strength to sit by your pool and check your e-mail without having to buy any more equipment.
The easiest way to determine where you already have connectivity is to carry a WLAN client around your property and take note of where you can connect the quality of the connection, and the connection speed. Of course, you need a laptop with a Wi-Fi NIC or a Wi-Fi-enabled PDA and a utility like Nestumbler, PocketWinC, Kismet, or minis tumbler.
Professionals use handheld wireless receivers for testing the signal strength in WLANs. These are very expensive, and, unless you are lucky enough to have a friend that owns one or belong to a wireless user group (WUG) that has one available for members, you won't be able to go that route.
If you don't have a laptop or wireless PDA and can't get access to an 802.11 wireless receiver, then you aren't completely out of luck. Kensington manufactures the Wi-Fi Finder, a credit card-sized device that detects the signal of 802.11b and 802.llg networks. The device doesn't work perfectly, but, if it's your only option, you should consider it. If you are using encryption on your network, the Wi-Fi Finder will not detect the signal, and it won't detect newer 802.llg devices or networks without a lot of traffic.