One of the most satisfying ways to spend a sunny afternoon is with an outdoor project to enhance your home – and there’s no better time than now to get out there and do it yourself. From a homemade way to harvest rainwater to unique upcycled DIY furniture to cool outside games for the whole family, here are 14 fun (and functional) outdoor projects to tackle this season.
Brian McCourt is a contractor, design expert and co-host of HGTV Canada’s Backyard Builds.
Reusing the Rain
Why let good rain go to waste? Building your own rainwater catching system is a relatively straightforward project that – once assembled – makes it easy for you to collect rain and use it to keep your garden watered and landscaping lush. Save water and keep your yard well hydrated? It’s a win-win.
An Eco-Friendly Idea
There are a few ways to build a home rainwater catcher, but the basics are simple: you’ll need a clean barrel (or barrels) to collect rainwater, an overflow solution, a way to get the water out of the barrel when you need it and a stand to hold the system up. This DIY rain barrel system featured on HGTV is a good option that uses three clean rain barrels (large plastic trash cans will work), PVC pieces, a spigot and a few other tools. Want more eco-friendly ideas? Here are a few of my energy-saving tips for your yard.
Something Old is New Again
I love a project that finds new purpose in old things. When people renovate their homes, old doors and windows often go into the landfill – but they don’t have to. If you have access to vintage doors or windows, you can make them into unique new outdoor pieces with lots of character. Need a few ideas? In this DIY, Sarah and I show you how to transform reclaimed doors and windows into new pieces like an outdoor coffee table with a garden insert, a special serving tray and a hanging outdoor swing bench.
Create Custom Bar Furniture
Who says you have to go out to enjoy a brew or two? Set an entertaining scene at home with these DIY bar stools. Perfect for an outdoor bar setup (like Sarah and I created for Backyard Builds) or to add unique seating to your patio, these easy-to-make stools are built from upcycled vintage beer kegs.
It’s All Fun and Games
Many people don’t realize how easy (and fun) it is to transform a backyard into your own personal play station with a few cool outdoor games you can make yourself. In this video, Sarah and I give you step-by-step instructions for creating a trio of DIY games: ladder ball, ring toss and giant tic-tac-toe.
Related: 5 Awesome Backyard Activities
Shine Some Light
One of the most easily overlooked aspects of an outdoor space is lighting – with the right outdoor lights, you can extend your backyard time and enjoyment long after the sun goes down. The simplest solution is to hang solar or LED lights, but you can also get creative with a DIY outdoor lighting project like these inexpensive outdoor lights made from baskets by Tiffany Pratt.
Put Your Feet Up
One of the keys to creating a really relaxing outdoor living space is to think about the details – a table and chairs are essentials, but adding thoughtful pieces can take things to the next level when it comes to both style and function. If you’re relaxing outside, for example, you’ll be way comfier if you can put your feet up and unwind. Complete your outdoor living room with a custom made-for-outside ottoman – like Sarah’s DIY piece made from an upcycled tire, plywood and some rope.
Grow a Container Garden
Want an outdoor project that keeps on giving? A container garden lets you grow your own flowers, herbs or even vegetables in a compact, contained space. If you want to take your container project to the next level, try building your own planters to hold your greenery – this DIY planter tutorial shows you how to build planters from patio pavers, duct end caps and wood pallets.
Go (and Grow) Vertical
If you’re really short on outdoor space (or if you just want a unique garden element for your yard), a vertical garden is a great way to go. In this vertical garden DIY, Sarah and I give you three ways (at three price points) to create your own vertical garden using recycled pop bottles, PVC pipe or bamboo.
Mark Things Up
While you’re at it with the gardening, why not make a statement? Making markers to label plants is a useful project to keep your garden organized, but it’s also an opportunity to get a little creative – a perfect activity for kids. Try this fun painted-rock plant marker project from Tiffany Pratt for a playful outdoor project.
Want to get in touch with your artistic side? PVC is an inexpensive material that can be used to make creative additions to your outdoor space. Check out my DIY video tutorial to learn how to make this bold and modern privacy screen.
Sway the Day Away
Even if your days spent whipping around the playground have passed, chances are you can still enjoy a relaxing sway or two on a swing. An outdoor swing creates a cool gathering spot that the whole family can enjoy and refurbishing an old bench swing – like this DIY project from Dave Wilson – is a simple project that adds a lot of impact to your porch. Want a few more swinging project ideas? Sarah’s got three fun ones for Backyard Builds with these outdoor DIYs featuring a vintage chair swing, a sling chair and even a unique trampoline swing.
This may seem obvious, but wooden pallets are made of… wood – which means they’re super useful for turning into quick and easy outdoor projects. If you’re in need of furniture for your patio, try this fun DIY project: using wooden pallets, you can create a convertible outdoor chair that transforms into a lounge bed.
If you’re constantly hunting for the little things in your yard or garage, that’s a sign that you’re in need of a better storage solution. Keep the small items organized and in check with the simple pegboard storage system in this DIY video.
Takes on Terracotta
When it comes to outdoor projects, sometimes you have to look at common items from a different angle to unlock cool new ideas. If you have some extra terracotta pots laying around, check out these Backyard Builds-inspired DIYs to make a charming bird feeder or a unique terracotta BBQ smoker.