As Canadians, we have a tendency to wait until the blaze of summer to transform our backyards, finishing just in time to pack it all up come winter. That makes about as much sense as renovating your home right before you sell. What if this year, we made a plan to start in spring so we could enjoy our hard work for the entire warm season? Here are 10 outdoor projects to start now to keep summer stress-free.
Brian McCourt is a contractor, design expert and co-host of HGTV Canada’s Backyard Builds.
Stop Delaying the Deck
Building a deck is the fastest and most cost-effective way to create a level space to entertain. If you’re going to DIY, then plan it out before the heat of summer. Start by measuring out the size you want, then calculate the amount of material needed. Now is the time to start digging your footings – or booking a contractor. Looking for inspiration? Here’s the Home to Win deck transformation pictured above.
Replace Old Patio Doors
When patio doors are too old to clean up and repair, it’s time to swap them for an energy-efficient product that doesn’t squeal or jam when you access your backyard. Your stress-free outdoor space starts with easy-to-use patio doors. While planning, check out these valuable backyard reno ideas most people overlook.
Add a Pergola
People all over the world hold the misconception that Canada is always cold. Well, we have news for them: it can be insanely hot in July and August, and a bit of shade should be incorporated into every backyard. If you build a pergola, weave outdoor fabric through to create a refuge for those super hot days. Here are 12 more stylish pergola designs.
Design a Fire Pit
Building a wood-burning fire pit can be an easy and inexpensive backyard upgrade. One of the biggest advantages of having an outdoor fire pit is that you can enjoy your backyard during cooler evenings, and even well into autumn. As a bonus, you’ll smoke out some of the mosquitoes. Check out the above cottage-meets-city retreat Sarah Keenleyside and I designed on Backyard Builds.
Build a Shed to Store Tools
Storage is one of the most sought-after amenities in residential real estate, and the backyard is no exception. Storing your lawn mower half under the deck and half exposed is not the most practical solution. That’s why a shed is a must. It’s one of my top recommended DIY projects because it’s relatively simple to build.
Prune Bushes and Trees
Now is the time to clean up overgrown hedges, bushes and trees. It’s only going to grow from here! When planting new greenery, make sure there’s enough space between so they have ample room to grow. It’s a common rookie mistake to plant things too close together.
A relatively affordable project, an outdoor shower is the perfect way to start your day come summer. Make sure it’s far enough from your home, or that it drains away from the foundation so you don’t run into water issues.
If you have a green thumb, and the idea of growing your own vegetables puts your mind at ease, then a greenhouse could have you planting earlier and eating homegrown veggies later in the season. You can save a lot of money on produce and not have to stress about the quality of your vegetables.
Build a Dining Nook
Likely the most popular addition to any backyard is a dining space, because who doesn’t enjoy dining al fresco? In smaller spaces, opt for built-in seating to maximize the square footage. Dining on the ground with mats and pillows is popular in Asian cultures, and it translates well in small outdoor spaces.
Create an Outdoor Movie Theatre
This outdoor project is so darn simple. Projector (check), white blackout fabric (check), a bungee cord (check). Popcorn, chocolate and outdoor movie nights – yes, please! This is such an easy addition to a backyard, and is so fun to enjoy with friends and family. Tour this cozy outdoor theatre design from Backyard Builds.