The cost of adding a deck to your home averages about $10,600, according to Fixr.com—but did you know it’s not considered a DIY project? It requires advanced carpentry knowledge as well as concrete handling and a number of expensive tools, which knocks it out of the DIY class. Fortunately, there are a number of do-it-yourself projects that can make your backyard more enjoyable, and you may be surprised at how easy they are to carry out.
Create a Natural Playground
Photo by Hans and Carolyn via Flickr
This growing trend trades standard swings and slides for boulders and trees, and it’s sweeping across North America. It encourages more imaginative free play, helps kids connect to nature and promotes social interaction. While it may sound like an overwhelming and costly project, it’s actually fairly simple and inexpensive. A few ideas to get you started:
- Build a hill. All this requires is a dump truck-sized load of dirt, raked smooth and sodded. One elementary school incorporated a hill as a key component of their P.E. program and found it offered numerous benefits for both mind and body.
- Add boulders for climbing or as a quiet place to sit. They can often be found for free, but places like Home Depot sell landscaping rocks of all sizes if you can’t locate any on your own.
- Add stumps, which are usually available through your city’s tree cuttings. Be sure to bury at least one-third of each below the ground so that it is stable enough to allow kids to skip from one to the next without tipping over.
- Sand doesn’t have to be in a sand box. You can use stumps or rocks to create a border and pile in the sand.
- Use log poles, sticks or branches to create a teepee. This makes for a fun hiding spot and play place. You might also cover it with annual vines or burlap.
Replace a Pool Liner
Photo’s by rae via Flickr
If it’s time to replace your pool liner, you might think you need to hire professionals, but it’s not as complex as it sounds. The first step is to find a pool liner supplier. Then drain your pool, and all lights, drains and fixtures have to be removed. Your old liner can then be removed from its tracks and cut into smaller pieces. Place duct tape on the seams that join the walls together to prevent them from showing once the new liner is installed.
Next, clean the bottom of your pool and inspect for damage. If there are any cracks, fill them with the same material and smooth it out with a trowel.
When you’re ready to install the liner, you’ll need three assistants. It should be installed from one corner to the next, following the manufacturer instructions. The liner should not be dragged across the surface of the pool or work area. When it is stretched across the pool, drop it down carefully to the bottom.
The beading should be installed from the outer edge, placing the liner into its track. If your pool has a hard bottom, remove your shoes and walk inside the pool in order to make necessary adjustments while inserting the liner into the track.
Add a Bocce Ball Court
Photo by arukasa via Flickr
A Bocce ball court provides years of fun and entertainment, and it isn’t complicated. First, decide on the size of the court, which will depend on the dimensions of your lawn. A typical backyard court is generally 60 feet by 12 feet. The Hitting Foul Line should be 10 feet from one end, and the Pointing Foul Line 6 feet from the other end.
Remove any obstructions that fall within the court area such as rocks or plants. Using a sod cutter or a shovel, remove at least 3-5 inches of soil. Rake the area, leveling the ground well so that it is perfectly flat and mark the perimeter of the court with chalk.
Cut 2 X 6 wooden planks according to the perimeter size. They can be painted to compliment the color of your home, if desired. Attach the lumber using wood screws to construct the frame. Purchase crushed, fine stone dust from Home Depot or your local hardware store and spread it onto the court using a compactor level to compact it well. The surface should be about 5 inches thick.
The final coating calls for oyster shell flour, which can be purchased online in bulk or in small quantities on Amazon.com. The coat should be 1-2 inches thick and flattened out with a rake. Next, place the wood frame firmly only the court; it should be above the foundation layers. Mark the center, pointing lines and spock using white paint, spray paint or chalk.
About the Author: Ted Andersen learned woodworking and plumbing from his handyman father. There aren’t many things he can’t make or fix in a house.
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