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Main Content
All in a Day's Work

Summer Yard Additions You Can Get Done in a Day

Spruce up your outdoor space in under eight hours

Scott Bish

Summer’s well underway, and enjoying it in the comfort of your outdoor space is a great way to unwind after a hard day’s work or on lazy weekend afternoons. To get your yard ready for relaxation with family and friends, here are some improvement ideas that are easy enough to tackle between sunup and sundown.

1. Walk This Way

Putting in a natural paving stone pathway is an easy way to add character and structure to your outdoor space without having to pour cement. The practical benefit of using stone is that you can easily do it yourself and keep parts of your turf protected; giving family members and visitors a clear walkway means they’ll stay off other parts of your lawn.

What you’ll need:

  •  Field Stones
  •  A shovel

To get started, choose stones that are at least 1 1/2 inches thick and about 24 inches wide. Make sure the stones are sturdy enough that they won’t crack and have a pleasing, natural shape so you don’t have to cut them.

Next, choose your path: Decide if you’re going for a straight line or a walkway with a bit of a curve, then lay the stones along the path. Leave at least a few inches between each stone. The larger the space you leave, the more grass or moss will grow between them.

After placing each stone how you want it, strip out the sod from underneath its outline. To do this, move each stone off to the side and dig down to a depth equal to the stone’s thickness plus 1 1/2 inches (you’ll want stones to lay flush with the ground so people don’t trip). Then, place each stone in its newly dug hole and fill in around it using dirt, sand, or a mixture of both. Keep going until you’ve reached the desired length of your pathway or patio. You’re now ready to walk the walk!

TIP: For a botanical look, consider planting drought-tolerant plants, such as thyme, between the stones. Their softness will add to the beauty of your yard space.

2. Fire Up Summer

Firepits are a crowd-pleaser. People see a cozy spot near a slow-burning, crackling fire and they can’t help but settle in. Make a firepit the focal point of your yard in just a few easy steps.
What you’ll need:

  • Field stones or retaining wall bricks
  • A shovel
  •  A level
  • Lava rocks

Before you get started, choose the look of your new firepit by selecting either field stones or retaining wall stones. If you already have a retaining wall on your land, consider using the same type of stones to match.

Begin by deciding where you want the firepit to be located and place one layer of stones over it in a circle. Using your shovel, mark the ground all the way around the stones, then remove them.

Then, pull up the grass from the roots in the pit’s location and use a level to ensure the ground is even before putting the stones back down. If the area is unlevel, you may need to build up one side of the firepit with an extra layer of stones.

Then, depending on how thick your stones are, you’ll want to place at least three layers around the ring to form your pit, however, the height of your firepit is up to you. Finally, line the bottom with lava rock, and you’re all set. Toss in a few logs, light them up, and enjoy a well-earned break—and maybe a few s’mores too.

3. Get in the Swing of Things

On a hot day, after your chores are done, nothing beats lounging under shady trees with a glass of lemonade. Add to your relaxation with a comfy hammock.
What you’ll need:

  •  A hammock
  •  Tree-fastening straps

Before you purchase and hang your hammock, carefully select the location. Scan your property for two healthy maple, oak, or beech trees that are mature enough to support your weight. As a general rule, avoid trees that aren’t large enough to resist bending or breaking.

Next, choose trees that are the right distance apart from each other based on the hammock you want:

  •  For a family hammock: At least 11 feet, 10 inches
  • For a double hammock: 10 feet, 2 inches
  • For a single hammock: 8 feet, 10 inches

If you choose trees too close together, your hammock will severely sag or touch the ground when you get in.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you’ll need a strong hold at each end of your hammock. Tree-fastening straps will give this secure connection without harming your trees. Simply wrap the strap around the trunk, pass the loop through the metal ring, then hook the hammock to the ring with a metal S hook. Now get in and get in the swing of hammock life.

4. Contain Yourself

Flowers add natural, vibrant beauty to any yard. Beyond planting a flower garden, using a variety of containers, window boxes, and unique planters can help you bring beauty and even a few vegetable and herb plants to your yard. To get started, all you need is the right mix of containers and a patch of well-lit space.

What you’ll need:

  • Containers (such as clay or terracotta pots, concrete boxes, wood crates, or even wheelbarrows or watering cans)
  •  Plastic screens
  •  Liner (newspaper or burlap)
  • Flowers, herbs, or vegetables
  • Soil

For containers made with metals that could rust, line them with plastic. If you choose a container with a closed bottom, you’ll need to drill several holes through the bottom to allow water to drain out.

Next, line your containers with either newspaper or burlap. Then fill them with soil and plant your flowers. For most vegetables and herbs, a container with a wide surface and shallow width (you only need 2 to 3 inches of soil) will produce a higher yield. For tomatoes, however, you’ll need a deeper container like a bucket for more soil. For more ways to improve your home’s outdoor space this summer, visit your local Tractor Supply and ask an associate for recommendations.

Scott Bish is a writer who hails from Ohio.