NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- We tend to spend the most time out in our yard during the summer. Maintaining a well-kept yard is undoubtedly a major undertaking and a huge cost. You don't need to be a professional landscaper to spruce up your yard -- nor do you need to break the bank.
From power washing your deck to raising plant beds and building a new fence, what are the step-by-step instructions to accomplishing some of the most common yard projects?
MainStreet did some digging to find eight easy do-it-yourself backyard projects all from the design experts themselves.
1. Raising Plant Beds
Raised plant beds offer a modern and clean look. Here are some steps to get this project finished on your own, courtesy of home improvement expert Mark Clement, co-host of “My Fix it Up Life”:
Step 1: Build the frames
Begin by building the top and bottom frames out of 1x2 western red cedar strips. From there, fasten two 26’’ strips to two 13’’ strips to form a rectangular frame. Apply some wood glue to the strips, then nail them together with a single nail (this will hold them more securely). Pre-drill the ends to keep them from splitting, then insert a screw in each corner.
Step 2: Attach side panels
Stand the two frames on their sides and apply some glue to the insides of each bottom. Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth out the sides and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Repeat on the other side of the box.
Steps 3 & 4: Attach the end and bottom panels
Next, stand the half-completed box on its end and apply more glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end just like the side panels and repeat on the opposite end. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using glue and screws. Drill several holes in the panels so water can escape.
2. Power washing Your Deck
Hosing down a decade old deck won't be enough to get the job done. That's when a power washer comes in handy. The best part is that you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars buying a power washer, since you'll only need it for a few hours. Save money by renting one at your local hardware store.
As for how to properly power wash your deck once you have the machine, expert Mark Clement says too much pressure can cause damage. "Just the right amount of power washing can brighten the space. And for a more natural look add a clear finish or dark-colored stain."
The finish will protect the deck from further wear and tear throughout the year.
3. Sanding and Staining
Some decks need more than just a power washing. The more intensive task of sanding and staining will take at least a weekend to complete, but the step-by-step strategies from Alex Roberts, president of Mr. Handyman will help give your deck the rehab it needs.
Step 1: Inspect
Examine the entire deck for chipped and peeling paint. Use a dust mask and remove loose pieces with a paint scraper or resort to renting a disc sander. If some areas are still rough, sand again with a fine-grit sandpaper.
Step 2: Clean
Prepare your deck by pressure washing it and remember to wear safety goggles. Allow the deck to dry completely.
Step 3: Stain
Latex or oil-based stain (choose one with sealant included!) can be easily applied to the floor boards with a paint roller a few boards at a time. Have a clean paint brush ready to spread the excess stain before it sets.
Step 4: Wait
Wait at least three days before walking on the freshly stained surface.
4. Flower Planters
Now that you've finished perfecting the look of your deck, it's time to decorate! "One of the easiest ways to add color and fragrance to any patio is by adding flowers as a finishing touch," says Roberts.
But Roberts tells us there are a few important factors to keep in mind when building a flower planter:
• Make sure to create holes at the bottom of the box for drainage and install a strong support system for each box.
• Select low-maintenance, colorful flowers such as coneflowers and Shasta daisies. Consider adding marigolds and bee balm to naturally repel mosquitoes.
• Ensure your potting soil is moist and leave at least two inches from the top of the planter if you want to include mulch after planting. Add your flowers and water.