Posts Tagged With: spring refresh

Spring Refresh DIY Idea #4 – How to Construct a Poolside Bar

How to Build a Poolside BarIf you are looking out at your lonely pool, still garnishing the cover, devoid of any lawn furniture, it just makes you sad. Cheer up, though – temperatures are rising and the pool will soon be back in use. Sure, you have some spring cleaning to do but why not indulge your dreams of adding a poolside bar? Just think – no more wet feet running through your house in search of food and drinks!

In your mind, is your poolside bar a stand-alone structure away from the water? Or do you want a bar with in-pool seating? Let its location, the style of your home and your budget dictate your choice for making it a reality.

Tiki Bar Technique

A stand-alone bar can be one that you build from scratch or assemble from a kit. You can even retro-fit a former garden shed by opening up one wall and building the bar there. There are so many options! Keep a few things in mind if you go with a stand-alone.

  • You need to make sure the structure has a firm foundation or is anchored to the ground to avoid being toppled by strong winds.
  • Extend the roof out over the bar and chairs to provide cover from the elements for your guests. You can line it with bamboo or palm leaves to give it a tropical feel.
  • Consider adding a raised deck floor in front for bar stools. It will help anchor the structure and will allow guests to get their feet off of the hot pool deck.
  • Add some hanging lanterns around the roof for a pop of color during the day and a romantic glow at night.

I’m Never Leaving This Pool-Side Bar

A swim-up bar can look a little intimidating but don’t let that hold you back. Keep in mind the bar needs to be accessible from the pool and dry land, so it will need to be an open structure on two sides. Again, you can choose to build it yourself or purchase a kit. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose a section of the pool that is 30 inches deep to allow you to add the in-pool features.
  • Add a raised shelf poolside and cover with tiles.
  • Since you need to clean the pool anyway, drain the pool in order to install the bar stools. These are usually made of concrete pillars and the seats can be covered with tile that matches the new shelf.
  • Give enough space between stools to allow guest to come up on their floats.
  • Install a canopy of sailcloth or thatch out over the poolside shelf to allow swimmers to get out of the sun. You can use the same covering over the dry side of the bar as well.
  • String lights beneath the canopy to give the bar an inviting feel at night.

A poolside bar is a great way to create a gathering place for friends and family. Be sure to decorate your new structure in whatever theme strikes your fancy. Make it a Tiki bar with palm leaves and bamboo or give it a nautical flare with anchors and fishing nets –whatever looks great against the backdrop of your home. Your bar can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. What matters the most is the hours of fun you will have outside with your loved ones. So light those Tiki torches and mix up some fruity drinks, your new bar is ready to open for the summer.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. If you’d like some advice about how to build your own fire pit, check out our blog post, How to Make a Concrete Fire Pit or Fire Bowl in 5 Easy Steps. Or better yet, you can purchase a completely all-inclusive glass fire pit from us! From concrete mixers to tile cutters and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #3 – How to Build a Patio

How to Build a Patio

Now that spring is here it’s time to get outside. Time to put those DIY plans you’ve had rattling around in your head all winter into action. Let’s build that patio you’ve been dreaming of.

First things first, make a few key decisions before starting to haul in the pavers.

  • How will you use the patio? – For entertaining? To relax? How you plan to use it will determine the size and materials you will need.
  • Where will you build the patio? – Look for an area that has good drainage, isn’t too close to trees, and is away from any buried utility lines. Call the power company before you start to dig and they can mark the location of the lines.
  • How much do you have to spend on the project? – Figure out how much you have to spend and let that help you determine the size of the patio and the materials to be used.
  • Do you need help? – Don’t forget that much of the materials needed are heavy and will have to be delivered. You may not be able to deposit the sand, gravel or stones close to your project site which means you may need to use a wheel barrow or front end loader to move the materials around.

Once you have determined your design plan, location and budget, then you will need to choose the materials you want to use. Here are a few options:

  • Concrete – This is probably the cheapest way to add a hard surface to your landscape but it can be problematic. If you choose to dye it with a coloring agent then you will need to be prepared to reapply the coating every couple of years in order to keep the color.
  • Natural Stone – Flagstone, slate, bluestone and limestone cost more. The thicknesses vary so you have to carefully install each stone in order to keep the patio level.
  • Brick – Offers Old World charm but needs maintenance. It is very porous and cold weather can cause it to crack leaving space for weeds or moss to grow through.
  • Pavers – Home improvement stores carry a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are all uniform in thickness so they are easier to install than natural stone and they are fairly inexpensive.

Get Down to Building

Your materials have been delivered and you are ready to begin. All patios need to be built on a level surface no matter what materials you use. Cracks, uneven surfaces and water pooling can all be traced back to not having a proper, level foundation. Let’s get started.

  • Mark the site – Whether you use the old string and stake method or the new aerosol paint technique, outline the area where you plan to build.
  • Dig, man, dig – Excavate down at least 8 inches for the sub-base of your patio. Whether you are going to pour concrete or lay pavers, the process is the same.
  • No sub-standard sub-base for you! – Clear the area of all roots, rocks and debris. Stamp down the dirt with a hand or power-driven stamper. Check to see if the ground is level. If it is, add a layer of gravel and pack it down. Once again, check to see if it is level.
  • Power to the pavers – Time to add the paving stones. Once you have laid them out in the design you want, stamp them down, and check to see if they are level. Adjust where needed.
  • Sand in your pavers? – Spread sand into the joints between the stones. Don’t scrimp on the sand. Work it in between the pavers to help lock them in place.
  • Wash down – Spray the remaining loose sand into the joints and now you are ready to clean up the patio and decorate.

Now, you are the proud owner of an outdoor room. “What will I do next?” you may be saying to yourself as you roll that shiny new grill across the new patio surface. Anything! The world is your oyster. Go forth and build more.

Expert Advice

Need more inspiration? Read our recent blog, Stir Up a Little DIY Inspiration with these 3 Project Ideas. Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects.

From power driven stampers to front end loaders and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #2 – Building a Backyard Playset

How to Build a PlaysetWhen you think back on your childhood, you may recall playing on a rusty old metal swing set with hard plastic seats. Remember how the whole thing threatened to flip over if you swung too high? The backyard play sets of today are a far cry from those rickety contraptions. Now kids have their choice of towers and forts in addition to swings and slides. What about a rock climbing wall?! We have the technology. The choices are endless … and the cost can run in the thousands of dollars. So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few things to consider in your quest to build a better playset.

Shop Smart

Before you start shopping stores or the internet for a playset to assemble, consider this:

  • Know your audience – What’s the age of the child you are building the playset for? What interests a toddler is less engaging for a 10-year-old. Look for a playset that can be reconfigured as your child grows up. Some sets will have features that can be removed and replaced with more age appropriate ones using very little additional construction.
  • It’s going to be how big? – Determine the size of the area where you want to put the playset. It will help to narrow down the choices in design plans. Consider placing the structure off to one side of the yard rather than in the middle. That gives the kids an open space where they can play football and other games. Besides, you don’t want to step out you back door and onto the jungle gym.
  • Avoid any trips to the ER – Know the weight limit of the playset you select. If you expect a neighborhood of kids to be on it at one time then spend the money for the highest rated play set. Accidents will happen so cushion their falls with a protective surface like bark or rubberized mulch. Spread it in a dense layer and extend it around all sides of the structure. Make sure all platforms and ramps have guard rails.
  • Can I mortgage that playset? – Focus on the quality of the building materials and the inclusive safeguards more than the elaborate play features. A playset made from good hard wood like cedar or redwood is the preferred choice of most professional playset builders. Sure, you will have to clean and paint it, but if properly maintained, a set built out of this kind of wood could last 7-10 years. Pressure treated lumber is less expensive but it has been created using chemicals that you don’t want to expose your children to. Manufacturers say the toxicity levels are low but ultimately it is your call as a parent on whether the risk is worth it.
  • Stick with the classics – Forget all the fancy construction plans. Swings and slides will always be in fashion. Elaborate features like rock climbing walls or trapezes only add to the cost of the project. Remember these are the same kids that happily played with your pots and pans just a few years ago. That swinging pirate ship may fall out of fashion with them in a heartbeat, and if isn’t not easy to remove, you’re stuck with it marooned in your backyard.

A Family Project

No one knows your kids the way you do. Select the type playset that will make them want to put down the smart phone, remote or other device and run out to play on it. Make building it a family project. Even young children can hand you a hammer or help spread mulch. It is all about creating memories of childhood days spent playing with friends on a backyard playset – one they’ll remember was built just for them by you. Priceless.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your backyard projects. From circular saws and nailers/staplers to pressure washers and mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Spring Refresh DIY Idea #1 – Building a Better Chicken Coop

How to Build a Chicken Coop

More and more people want to raise chickens. This trend isn’t just in rural areas but in urban ones, too. Folks want to get back to a more organic way of living and eating. If you are a would-be chicken farmer, then it’s time to get your ducks (or dare we say chickens) in a row. Your first big task is to build a chicken coop.

The Scoop on Coops

You need to ask yourself a few key questions upfront to help you refine your game plan:

  • How many chickens do you want to keep? This will determine the size of your coop. A flock of at least three hens would need a 4×8 foot screened-in run as well as a 4×4 foot critter-proofed coop where hens can lay eggs.
  • Do you know where you’ll build or place your coop? You need to place it in an area where it will have adequate shade during the hot summer months and ample sunlight during the cold winter months. Near a tree that drops its leaves in fall is perfect.
  • Do you want to build a coop from scratch or do you want to repurpose an existing building? Recycling an existing structure will save you money but it will still need to be altered to meet the needs of the flock. If you build one from scratch, you may want to purchase detailed chicken coop design plans that will take you through the project step by step. There are plenty of “free” plans out there; just remember – you get what you pay for!

Now that you have determined the size, placement and construction design of your coop, you are ready to begin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Raise it up – Make sure the floors of the nesting area are raised to help keep chicken feet dry during rainy weather. Galoshes are not an option for these “kids.”
  • Let there be light – Egg production is affected by the amount of light the flock is exposed to. This is why production is down during winter months. To counter this, install a light inside the coop. Use a warm light source and not a blue/white one.
  • Feather that nest – Give the flock warm places to nest. One idea is to use a plastic storage bin with the lid on it. Cut a hole in one end for the chicken to enter through and a second hole on the back so you can reach in for the eggs. Be sure to line the inside of the bin with hay for warmth. The plastic bin makes it easy to pull the nest out, clean it and return it back to the coop.
  • Keep the critters out – Raccoons and other predators are smart so protect your flock with metal latches that cannot be easily opened. Be sure to lock your coop up at night to keep them safe.
  • Free to roam (sort of) – Yes, you want chickens to have ample room to roam but you can’t watch over them all the time. Building a screened in run will keep them safe and provide you with peace of mind.
  • Can we vent? – Good air circulation is essential to keeping your flock in robust health. Place screened in gaps between the walls and the roof to allow heat to escape and air to enter without causing drafts.
  • You have to use the coop, too – Sure, the ladies are a little on the short side, but unless you want to crawl on your hands and knees to retrieve their eggs, you might want to consider your comfort in the design of the building. You will be entering it frequently to feed, water and clean.
  • Let’s decorate this hen house – You will be looking at this chicken coop for a long time so you might as well make it look nice. Consider painting the outside or adding hanging plants. Let your imagination run wild.

Once you are finished with your incredible chicken coop sit back and relax. Bask in the knowledge that your chickens are happy and living in a condo creation that you built. Just ignore the ugly stares you may be attracting are from your dog! (Note to self – next project: new dog house).

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY yard projects. From circular saws to nailers and staplers, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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