(ARA) – When it comes to home improvement, most of us have two “to-do” lists: the things we need to do, such as paint the shutters and clean out gutters, and the list of those we want to do, such as fun and easy projects that add visual interest or practical enhancements to the outdoors. Since our budgets for both lists are usually limited, it makes sense to seek out projects that are easy, affordable and that create the most impact in a short amount of time.
Spring outdoor projects often show up on both lists. Upgrades can provide a welcoming retreat for your family, or can improve your home’s marketability and appeal to potential buyers when it comes time to sell. Fortunately, it’s easy to find simple projects that take only a weekend and a modest budget to accomplish.
“Adding elements like planter boxes and raised garden beds is a great way of creating impact without a huge commitment of time,” says home improvement expert Mark Clement, co-host of “My Fix it Up Life” which airs nationally, on iTunes, Blog Talk Radio and at MyFixitUpLife.com
Clement offers some easy tips to help guide weekend projects that anyone can build:
Raised bed gardens. Some of the most abundant vegetable, herb and cut-flower gardens grow exceptionally well in raised beds because there is less soil compaction and they allow for excellent drainage. While raised beds are extremely functional, they can also add style to your yard and garden. Their organized appearance lends a structural element, particularly if you construct them with quality materials like cedar.
“By carefully selecting the right materials, your garden bed will last longer and look better. Western Red Cedar is a good choice because it is easy to work with, rot-resistant, and it ages beautifully and maintains its shape and strength over the years, even when exposed to extreme weather,” Clement adds.
Window and planter boxes. An easy and fun green project, wood planter boxes can be built in an afternoon. Whether arranged in a group or hung as window boxes, they instantly add a warm texture and welcoming touch to your front porch or backyard deck when filled with foliage. This project allows do-it-yourselfers to inject some personality that transforms the look from simple to elaborate and tie into the character and style of your home.
“Even if you’ve never built a box, you can create a classic look by adding a bit of thin trim to the top and bottom of the box,” Clement says. “You can also buy wooden brackets to support the window box for a more traditional look.”
Simple structures. For those looking to tackle a bigger project, invite friends over and make it a do-it-yourself project party. From small decks to barbeque platforms, or front door arbors to backyard gazebos, gather friends to help assemble projects that create new spaces and places to entertain or dress up your outdoors. “I love to make things that give my yard and home a finished touch,” Clement says. “And making something as a project makes it truly yours and a part of your home – something you can be proud of and really enjoy.”
Power washing your deck, play equipment and even your furniture is also an easy, low-commitment, low-cost way to spruce up your outdoor environment. You can buy or rent a power-washer and accomplish the job in a day. Clement does advise to carefully follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using a power-washer, as too much pressure can cause damage. “If used properly, it will brighten up the space like you wouldn’t believe,” he adds. “If you’re really ambitious, add a clear finish or dark-colored stain to your wood deck and the neighbors will think it’s brand new.”
Finally, Clement’s top tip this spring is simple: Have fun. Share your experience and project photo with friends and family via Real Cedar’s Facebook page.
For detailed steps on how to construct these projects, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/WRCLA/featured.