Outdoor DIY projects are very divisive: some people love spending time outside and getting their hands dirty, while others hate the idea of spending hours exposed to the elements with only a tool kit for company. The good news is that even if you fall into the latter camp, there are still plenty of fun backyard DIY projects that you can do in less than 60 minutes. Try one (or more) of these projects when you feel like getting some fresh air but don’t want to spend the whole day in the sun.
1. Do Some Landscaping Along Your Walkway
If you have a path leading up to your front door, spruce it up by adding some plants as a border along the edge. You’ll want to choose a hardy plant that can handle being stepped on and doesn’t require a lot of care, or else an initially short DIY project could become more work than you intended. Creeping Jenny is a popular option if you’re looking for ground coverage, while geraniums are great if you’re looking for a little more color. Find more suggestions for walkway plants here.
2. Make an Outdoor Tic Tac Toe Board
Set up a giant tic tac toe board for your kids using only a wood round, smooth rocks, and yellow, black, and red paints. You can paint lines on the wood round to create your board while you paint the rocks to look like bumblebees and lady bugs.
3. Create Fire in a Bowl
Maybe you don’t want to tear up your yard or invest the time necessary to build a fire pit, but you can still add a cozy touch to your next patio get-together by setting up bowls with flickering flames. This project should only take about half an hour, and you can learn how to do it here.
4. Turn a Plastic Bottle into a Succulent Hanger
The next time you have a medium or large plastic bottle hanging out in your recycling bin, turn it into a succulent hanger by cutting off the narrow top section and filling it with soil and pea gravel. All you have to do is purchase several small succulents (which require very little maintenance) and plant them in the containers, then poke two holes in the side of the bottle in order to thread twine through. If you’re ambitious, you can also use acrylic craft paint to decorate the bottle.
5. Make a PVC Pipe Towel Rack
If you have a pool in your backyard, you can make a towel rack using only PVC pipes, a PVC saw, and 12 T-fittings that are the same size as the pipes. That way, your family can keep their towels off the ground and use them longer! Get the instructions here.
6. Make Your Own Citronella Candles
Why not choose a DIY project that will benefit you, your friends, and your family the next time you want to sit outside on a summer evening? Follow this step-by-step guide to make your own citronella candles in order to ward off mosquitoes.
7. Make a Hanging Basket Garden
If you have a green thumb but limited space in your yard, you can create a hanging basket garden by running twine through sturdy, woven baskets, filling those baskets with soil, and adding plants. Just make sure that your baskets are large enough for your plants but not so large that they’ll be extremely heavy once you add the soil.
8. Pitch a Hula Hoop Tent
This is a great project for parents and kids to do together. All you’ll need are hula hoops, old sheets, scissors, and safety pins for the actual tents, plus blankets and cushions to sit on underneath. Get detailed instructions here and give your kids a cool, shady place to hang out in the backyard.
9. Make a Movie Screen Out of a Bed Sheet
If you have an old white sheet or tarp lying around, transform it into a projector screen for an outdoor movie night. All you have to do is sew down the sides of the sheet to get the screen size you want, insert eyelets on each side of the top of the sheet, and sew in PVC pipes to create the frame. Then you can just use twine or rope to suspend the screen from a tree or other outdoor structure.
10. Build a Backyard Tandoor Oven
Did you know it’s possible to turn a terra cotta flower pot into a tandoor oven for naan and other flat breads? Or that this complicated-sounding project can be completed in roughly an hour? You can learn how at Food52.
11. Make a Bird Feeder Out of an Old Bottle
To complete this project, you’ll need to use screws or wood dowels to connect two small wooden planks at a right angle. You’ll then need to add two wire loops to the vertical board—one near the neck of your glass bottle and one near the bottom, so that the bottle is suspended 3 or 4 inches above the bottom board and the birdseed will be able to flow out into a bottom container gradually.
12. Turn Mason Jars into Outdoor Lights
Illuminate your deck or patio by creating solar mason jar lights, which are incredibly easy and inexpensive to make and can typically be completed in half an hour or less.
13. Paint Cinder Blocks to Create Outdoor Coffee Table
We normally think of cinder blocks as unattractive, but they don’t have to be. Throw down a drop cloth, choose a wide paint brush and a color paint that you like, and spruce up a couple cinder blocks. You can then turn two cinder blocks on their ends (so that they’re taller than they are long) to make an outdoor coffee table, or turn several painted cinder blocks into planters for colorful flowers.
14. Paint Your Patio Tiles
If you like the idea of a painting project and have a tiled patio that you want to give a modern look, you can transform several squares using latex floor paint.
15. Create a Border for Your Garden Using Wine Bottles
All you’ll need to do is dig a trench (about 8 inches deep) around your garden, line the far edge of the trench with either aluminum flashing or landscaper’s plastic edging, and then place your wine bottles top down in the dirt against the edging or flashing. Just be sure you rinse out your wine bottles and remove any labels or plastic first!