With summer and the festive season upon us, now is the ideal time to prepare your backyard space for entertaining family and friends. Why not tackle one of these eight easy DIY ideas and turn up the cool factor in your backyard. Just in time for the festive season, and you will have yourself a neat and cool chill-out spot to enjoy with your family and guests. Check out these simple DIY projects:
Build a bench
Buying outdoor furniture can be pretty costly, and then very often it only lasts two seasons. Instead, build something that looks good but costs less. Here’s how:
Stack two or three concrete blocks on top of each other, and stack another set on an opposite side (leaving a metre gap between the two sets of stacked concrete blocks) – this is to create the ‘legs’ or ‘sides’ of the bench.
Insert slabs of lumber through the concrete blocks’ gaps to link the two stacked concrete sets – this is to create the seating area of the bench. Remember to use concrete adhesive to ensure the planks are secured.
Move the now built bench against a wall for those who want to add back support.
Add a few cushions for comfort and decoration. These can be kept indoors, while the rest of the bench should last outdoors.
TOP TIP: Paint the concrete blocks in a pop of colour or neutral colour (depending on your style and colours of your cushions) and add a protective varnish coat on the lumber to ensure it lasts for seasons to come.
Make your own outside side-table
So, you have a place to sit down to soak up the sunset. But now you need something to hold those sundowner drinks and snacks, right? Well, this is as easy as saying ‘table’! All you need is a large sized terra cotta flowerpot – one that is the ideal size and height of what you would like your table to be – and a terra cotta tray that fits on the top (make sure it doesn’t sink into the pot). You can paint the edges of the pot and tray to match your bench’s colour. And voila! You have an outdoor table.
TOP TIP: Use the inside of the pot as storing space for gardening tools or accessories for your balcony or verandah.
Create good light
Summer nights are meant to be spent under the stars…and with some romantic soft light. So, forget the standard lights on the outside of your house and rather run a string of fairy lights where you want to create some ambient light. The DIY key to creating great light is to cover the fairy lights with cupcake liners – you can use different shades for a fun effect or white for a more stylish approach.
TOP TIP: Buy proper outdoor lights from a hardware store, so that you don’t need to take them down whenever the weather takes a turn for the worst (but remember to remove the cupcake liners!).
Fill your flowerbed
While pretty flowers and luscious plants can already do much to make any garden or balcony (big or small) look inviting, we recommend taking it one step further: by adding some pinecones (crushed or whole) to the flower bed or big flower pot for those who live on balconies. Not only are pinecones easy to find (and free too), but they also add a lovely scent and a sleek decorative look to your landscape.
TOP TIP: Did you know that adding pinecones to your flowerbed are a great way to keep cats and dogs away from your plants and flowers? Winning!
Paint your patio
Whether you live in an apartment with a small patio or in a home with a large verandah, a simple paint job can do wonders to update your backyard – without breaking the bank or taking up all your time. If you have a tiled patio/verandah area that feels a bit stale, give it a fresh lick of (tile-friendly) paint: choose a neutral yet natural colour (think: mint green) that matches your home’s exterior; or add a pop of colour to every other tile to create a cool mosaic effect (it’s a great way to bring a tropical feel to your garden). If you have a wooden deck, a good sanding and varnish is always a good way to make it look fresh.
TOP TIP: As you have the paintbrushes out, why not give the exterior of your home a new coat of paint too?
Create the illusion of a bigger backyard
If you live in a home with a small garden or an apartment with a balcony, you may know that mirrors are great to help make a room look bigger, but did you know that you can apply the same theory to help your garden look larger? Yes, well-placed mirrors of a good size – especially against side walls – will help reflect the right light and greenery from the garden, and so create the feel of more space.
TOP TIP: Use old, blocked window frames to house the mirrors – this will not only add a quaint feel to your garden, but also minimise harsh light reflections and prevent birds from flying into the mirrors.
Build an outdoors fort for your kids
Building a tree house is not the easiest of tasks, plus it can become a dangerous playing ground if not done properly. Rather, create a cool (and safe) hangout spot for your kids to laze under trees. All you need are one or more hula-hoops (depending on how big you want to make the fort) and some old sheets. Simply loop the hoop through the branches of a tree, and secure with rope. Then, add the sheets at the top and, again, secure it with rope. Add a picnic blanket and some cushions on the floor and watch your kids have fun for hours!
TOP TIP: Add a few outdoor fairy lights to the fort to turn it into a romantic hangout spot for you and your partner once the kids are in bed!
Make a succulent wall box
Stuck with a boring patio, verandah or garden wall? Then, a chic succulent wall box can be just the thing to add some colour and art to it!
To make this, you need: a wooden shadow box, a large old picture frame (a size that matches the shadow box’s size), wire mesh, waterproofing film, moss, soil mix for succulents and cacti, as well as succulents plants. From here:
- Line the wooden shadow box with the waterproofing film.
- Spread the soil in the shadow box until it reaches the edges of the box.
- Place the moss at the top of the soil.
Now, add the wire mesh – you might need to check how you want the succulents arranged before fixing the wire mesh to the box (but don’t plant them yet). Then fix the wire mesh to the edges of the box with a staple gun. This will help support the soil and the succulents.
Now plant the succulents – you may have to cut a few holes in the wire mesh to do this; and then make holes through the moss and soil to secure the succulents.
Now, using wood glue or nails (and a hammer), fasten the picture frame over the top of the box. Wait a few days to a week for the succulents to establish their roots in the box before hanging.
And presto – you now have your very own wall art and a little garden in one go!
TOP TIP: To create a really arty effect, choose different textured and coloured succulents, and arrange them in a unique pattern in the box.