This month I take a look at some easy DIY projects that you can do to spruce up your outdoor area ahead of summer.
One of the best experts I know on this topic is my dad, Jeff Thurston. I discovered things in our garden which had all been weekend projects that started as an idea. After a couple of trips to the hardware store and a few spare hours on a Saturday, those simple ideas had been turned into DIY masterpieces.
Dad identified his top three favourite outdoor projects that he had created, and we got talking.
The first was his take on an outdoor Bali-themed breakfast bar, which he made by converting a simple corner of the deck railing into a stylish area, perfect to sit around for a beer with friends or for a coffee in the mornings. He simply bought some wood, cut it down to the correct length to match the deck railing, and staining it to freshen it up a bit. Adding bamboo underneath gave it the ‘Bali’ feel that he wanted.
The second project was an outdoor courtyard. He repurposed an old outdoor fish pond, using epoxy to surround the pond with red brick and blue stone. He bought a water pump and used this to create a waterfall feature that circulates and trickles back into the pond. He then used the same rocks to build an outdoor fire pit by moulding boulders together with concrete to create a rustic look. He laid cobblestones to finish the area, and added some outdoor furniture.
His third favourite DIY is a bar leaner, upcycled from an old table and chairs that my parents accidentally bid on – and won – on TradeMe. Rather than waste or give away the table, my dad sketched out a design that would give the set a brand new use. He added height by attaching extra wood to the base of the table and the chairs, and again stained the whole set to give it a professional look.
If you live in a flat and think that these projects seem ‘way too big for a small space, you can still try few super-simple DIY tasks to spruce up your own outdoor area, regardless of what you have to work with. You don’t have to be an expert or have any professional building skills to be able to whip something up either – it is truly all about the journey of working on a project yourself and figuring it out as you go. A great start is to take an idea that you think could work, draw up a rough design, and take it to a hardware store to get their advice on the best way to tackle your project.
Easy ways to change up an outdoor environment that doesn’t have a lot of space include creating social seating areas and adding plant arrangements.
It might be worth buying some outdoor furniture for your space, or if you want a cheaper solution you could hunt for something at a local op shop and make some changes to add your own touch and to give it extra ‘life’. With a bit of sanding and painting, or even using extra materials to change the shape like my dad’s bar leaner, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve. It all starts with an idea, and then a little bit of work to create something that is unique and made completely by you.
Plants are also a great way to transform a space; you can pick up a whole range of different styles at great prices to add a pop of colour to any area. If you don’t think you know enough about plants, the staff at plant stores are always there for advice and are happy to help with a few easy-care tips to get you started. It is also super easy to grab some pebbles and arrange them around plants, ornaments, or garden features to make them stand out.
My investigations revealed that the best advice for DIY newcomers is to start with an idea, ask for some tips from a professional, and just give it a go. You never know what kind of skills you might have until you try it yourself!