NEW YORK -- We tend to spend the most time out in our yard during the summer. Maintaining a well-kept yard is undoubtedly a major undertaking and a huge cost. You don't need to be a professional landscaper to spruce up your yard -- nor do you need to break the bank.
From power washing your deck to raising plant beds and building a new fence, what are the step-by-step instructions to accomplish some of the most common yard projects?
MainStreet did some digging to find eight easy do-it-yourself backyard projects all from the design experts themselves.
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Raised plant beds offer a modern and clean look. Here are some steps to get this project finished on your own, courtesy of home improvement expert Mark Clement, co-host of “My Fix it Up Life”:
Step 1: Build the frames
Begin by building the top and bottom frames out of 1x2 western red cedar strips. From there, fasten two 26’’ strips to two 13’’ strips to form a rectangular frame. Apply some wood glue to the strips, then nail them together with a single nail (this will hold them more securely). Pre-drill the ends to keep them from splitting, then insert a screw in each corner.
Hosing down a decade old deck won't be enough to get the job done. That's when a power washer comes in handy. The best part is that you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars buying a power washer, since you'll only need it for a few hours. Save money by renting one at your local hardware store.
Some decks need more than just a power washing. The more intensive task of sanding and staining will take at least a weekend to complete, but the step-by-step strategies from Alex Roberts, president of Mr. Handyman, will help give your deck the rehab it needs.
Step 1: Inspect
Examine the entire deck for chipped and peeling paint. Use a dust mask and remove loose pieces with a paint scraper or resort to renting a disc sander. If some areas are still rough, sand again with a fine-grit sandpaper.
Now that you've finished perfecting the look of your deck, it's time to decorate! "One of the easiest ways to add color and fragrance to any patio is by adding flowers as a finishing touch," says Roberts.
But Roberts tells us there are a few important factors to keep in mind when building a flower planter:
• Make sure to create holes at the bottom of the box for drainage and install a strong support system for each box.
• Select low-maintenance, colorful flowers such as coneflowers and Shasta daisies. Consider adding marigolds and bee balm to naturally repel mosquitoes.
• Ensure your potting soil is moist and leave at least two inches from the top of the planter if you want to include mulch after planting. Add your flowers and water.
What's a well-maintained, flower-filled deck without furniture? If your current patio table and chairs is on its last legs, before you buy a new furniture set take into account Roberts' mini-guide below for purchasing outdoor furniture meant to last:
• Weather-resistant pillows in bold colors bring comfort and zest to the seating area, while floor pillows add extra seating.
• Make sure your patio umbrella is weighted to prevent high winds from taking hold. Many glass top tables have been broken by high winds
Installing a fence around the perimeter of your property could costs thousands, but is certainly necessary for safety and privacy reasons. Barbara Hastings, senior manager in marketing communications at Troy-Bilt, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, offers the following tips for constructing the perfect fence (though this project is likely for the experienced DIYers.)
Step 1: Spacing
To begin, you need to plot out the fence outline and mark all corners. Posts should be spaced six to eight feet apart.
You read that correctly -- the birdhouse. It's a common backyard accessory, but whether or not you have one in your yard, it may not have a copper roof. Eric Berman of Erikson Birdhouse shares the following tips for how to construct a striking copper roof for your birdhouse, bound to stand out and garner compliments from guests (and neighbors!)
Step 1: Calculate
Determine the dimensions of your birdhouse's roof to estimate the appropriate size of sheet metal to purchase. Most home improvement stores will cut the sheet metal for you.
Now that your deck is looking brand new and your outdoor furniture is in tip-top shape, it's time to start grilling. A filthy barbeque impacts the taste of the food. A dirty grill doesn't mean you need to replace it. Instead of buying a new grill, cleaning your current one is a cost effective way to grill as if you bought the barbeque yesterday. Bruce Yacko, CEO of JAWS Cleaners, shares his expert tips with MainStreet:
Step 1: Heat
Heat the grill to a low heat and use a stiff wire brush for the grate(s). Be careful to avoid coming in direct contact with the hot grates.