Turn the Backyard Into Your Favorite Summer Destination
17 DIY ways to create a more beautiful and relaxing outdoor space
For the cost of one summer trip, you can create a relaxing summer oasis right in your own backyard. But, be warned: A yard this cool means that friends and family will come knocking. Whether or not you let them in, of course, is entirely up to you.
Get Started With a Fire Pit
Our How to Build a Fire Pit project is certainly a reader favorite. No matter the season, DIYers love the idea of an open flame for roasting marshmallows and late-night hangouts. Just make sure you're careful when you light up.
Take a few indoor comforts with you when you go outside this season. Create your own cool breeze with a porch ceiling fan. And, don't limit yourself to outdoor furniture that's hard plastic. Go for plush, weatherproof seating and brightly-painted end tables. While you're at it, throw down an outdoor rug, a few planters, and a coffee table. Now, just look at all the livable space you just added to your house for the summer. Take a tour of the rest of this outdoor space.
If there's no swing on your porch, you're doing porches wrong. Hang one like the York Harbor Porch Swing by Penobscot Bay shown here, or channel your inner carpenter and assemble one from a DIY kit. You'll learn the strongest, safest way to hang it at that last link, too.
Aside: This isn't the last Adirondack chair you're going to see in this roundup. Seems they're synonymous with relaxation. See links below for more on the popular loungers.
Noisy (or just nosy) neighbors? Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to make your yard a more private retreat. Shown here, staggered wooden boards create a one-of-a-kind privacy fence softened by shrubs and shade trees. (That takes care of visual barriers, but you can even reduce noise pollution with water features. More on that later.) See the aptly titled 10 Ways to Add Privacy to Your Yard for more ideas.
We mentioned earlier that adding a fountain to your backyard can mask unwanted sounds like passing traffic or noisy neighbors. It's easy enough to make one out of just about anything, including a salvaged urn or a stack of rocks (shown).
Set up a bistro set for brunch with your sweetie. Unpainted wood sets like this one may require annual sealing with a penetrating oil, such as teak or tung oil, to maintain their luster.
Similar to shown: Living Accents 3-Piece Wood Bistro Set in acacia, about $80; acehardware.com
If you're more of a soaker than a swimmer, consider repurposing a vintage clawfoot bathtub as a stylish plunge pool. Just fill with water from a hose.
Similar to shown: Cast iron clawfoots like the one shown here start at about $250 at your local salvage yard.
Reminder: Laying an outdoor patio is a great way to define a space. To recreate the bluestone surface shown here, see How to Lay a Bluestone Patio. Then, plop down a store-bought fire pit or a prefab wood-burning chiminea like the one shown here. Amping up cuteness with dog is optional, but highly recommended.
Similar to Shown: Bluestone flagstones, about $4-$7.50 per sq. ft.; at stone yards and cast aluminum Prairie Chiminea, about $430; The Blue Rooster.
...even if all you've got is a stump. Turn it into a dining table by slicing it level at about 28 inches tall, and crowning it with a DIY poured concrete top.
For a 30-inch-round by 2-inch-thick top, build a plywood mold that's the same diameter, but make the sides 1 inch deeper. Line the bottom of the mold with steel mesh, and pour in a 1-inch layer of wet concrete. Lay a few pieces of steel rebar in the wet concrete to provide extra strength. Top with a second 1-inch layer of concrete. Let cure and remove the sides of the mold, leaving the plywood base intact to help support the tabletop. Then go ahead and hang a decorative chandelier just 'cause.
Why use a shed for storage when you could create a playhouse or getaway-for-grown-ups instead? This homeowner made a bright, beautiful room with large, salvaged windows. The miniature porch is a bonus when it comes time for an instant vacation. Take a video tour of this charming space.
If a super-glam cabana isn't your style, go for this boho-chic canopy instead. Hang long lengths of silk over a clothesline strung between the house and a pole anchored in the backyard. Secure the sides to a fence or a roof overhang with sturdy spring clips.
Similar to shown: Silk Scapes in Sea, about $50 for a 3-by-9-foot piece; sarahssilks.com