The warmer spring weather has been providing us with more evenings spent outside lately. And if you’re like us, you may have looked around your backyard and noticed some areas for improvement. And as your list of ideas begins to grow, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with large-scale, time consuming projects that can really hurt your wallet. Fortunately, we’ve created our own list of quick and easy backyard upgrades to be tackled inside of a single day.
Border Those Beds
A quick, easy, and often inexpensive way to give your backyard an impactful upgrade is to create borders around your flower beds or gardens. This creates a very finished and professional look, and yet takes very little time to create. And there is plenty of room to get creative with the materials you use. Pavers will certainly do the job or even standard bricks. Or go for a more natural style and use stones (about the size of a baseball). Your beds will have a sharper look to them and the added benefit of a barrier against weeds or overgrowth – just be sure to set the border at least two inches into the ground to block weed roots.
Many think that adding a feature such as a fire pit is an intensive or costly project to undergo, with the exception of buying a cheap, above ground fire pit from a store. The truth is, a great fire pit is very simple to set up and can cost a fraction of those found in a store! A simple web search will show you plenty of styles and ideas but one of the most tried and true is to dig approximately 18-24 inches deep at about 2-3 feet wide having taken the proper precautions to not dig into power lines, gas lines, or other buried structures. Then, line the bottom with small rocks or bricks to provide a fairly even base. Then, line the walls with bricks or cinder blocks, standing vertically. You may need to widen your circle to compensate for the thickness of cinder blocks and be sure to pack in the walls of dirt. Finish with flat bricks or stones on top and you’ll have a great looking fire pit that stays contained and provides warmth and memories for many nights to come.
While an entire porch or patio can be a large and costly addition, you can create a convenient and useful patio for very little – no more than a bag or two of quick dry concrete. This can make for an outdoor dining space to put a table and chairs, lounge space, or exercise platform. Make sure to flatten out the ground you pour the cement onto and use a level to make sure you won’t have any sloping. As the concrete dries and the “wet” look begins to disappear from the surface, you can create textures by lightly dragging a broom or brush across the surface.
Bars & Buffets
One of the best features of having a backyard is hosting parties, social gatherings, or simple hangouts with friends and loved ones. Adding a bar or buffet to your space will make entertaining those guests easy and more enjoyable. There are a number of different DIY plans out there, but choose yours based on size and function – do you want a larger buffet to serve multiple guests or a smaller, more intimate surface? Will this be a fixed, built in structure or movable with collapsible legs or wheels to move around as needed? Once you decide what is best suited for your space, you can start building!
Aside from flower beds and gardens, planters can help adorn a space and make it feel more centralized. With the right plants blooming, larger planters will grab attention and can even draw people to a space if they border a patio, for example. And as we’ve mentioned on this blog before, this can play with focal points and leading lines, giving the impression that your backyard is larger or accenting specific places in your yard that you want to show off.
Herbs Within Reach
If your kitchen has a small window that can easily be opened/closed or if there’s a door in close proximity to your kitchen, consider setting up an herb garden next to them. There are great in-store options currently that don’t take up much space and hundreds of great ideas which use recycled cans, jars, or other fun household products. Herbs are fairly low maintenance, provide delicious aromas when the windows are open, and will step up your cooking abilities for a very low cost.
Even the smallest backyard needs some form of lawn care and maintenance. And that means you’ll probably have some tools that you need to keep around for such occasions. If storage is tight you can always get a prefabricated shed for a reasonable price. These are lighter and made ready to quickly assemble which makes them a much better choice over constructing an entire new garage out back.
Now that you have all of the tips to get your backyard in top shape for all summer activities, what’s going to be your first project?