If you've put off your backyard makeover project this summer, don't fear. There's still time to glow up your exterior environment – and get it ready to shine in the spring – before the leaves fall and the ground freezes. We've collected some suggestions from our customers about ‘must-do' backyard remodeling projects that can be done by amateurs and hobbyists without needing to call in the contractors. Keep reading to discover our top five ways to make the most out of your outdoor space.
1. Clean Your Beds.
It's easy to put off cleaning your garden beds until Spring, especially when the days start getting colder and the last thing you want to do is stick your hands in soggy dead leaves. The good news is: you don't have to, and actually you shouldn't in order to support the native plants and critters making their homes in your backyard throughout the winter.
That being said, there are some things you can do to protect and improve your outdoor greenery and plants. After the first frost, remove and dispose of all diseased plants and parts. While keeping leaves in the beds is recommended, be sure to rake up any that are preventing light from getting to your grass and also clear out any bunched up around the bases of your perennials. Last but not least, save your vegetable and flower seeds for replanting in the spring. A little work today will save you big bucks in the future.
2. Chill Without the Chill.
While some of our customers visit their storage units to swap out patio furniture and plant stands with holiday lights and decorations by October, others extend the summer season as long as they can. If you want to make a big impact with your DIY backyard makeover, incorporate cozy elements that will make the transition from hot to cool easily.
First on the list? Fire pits. Check your city ordinances to make sure they're allowed and get up to date on any restrictions before dropping any dough. (In Denver, for instance, residents can have gas fire pits but not wood-burning ones.) There are many, many tips and tutorials online about all styles and types of DIY fire pits at just about any budget, and many using leftover pavers, lumber, and concrete you might have in your storage unit or garage. Survey what you have, decide what you're willing to spend, and commit time to it and you'll have a way to stylishly stave off the chill well into winter.
Another tip to warm up the space is to invest in an indoor/outdoor rug to place over frozen flooring. Camp blankets, ponchos and portable heaters can also drastically up the style and comfort of your fire escape, porch or backyard without breaking the bank. And of course, be sure to check what you may have packed away in your CubeSmart storage unit before heading to the store. No need to buy new when you've already got the materials you need.
3. Plant Fall Containers.
A quick way to make a big impact during your backyard makeover is to swap out any summer container plants with plants that do well in the colder weather – and freshen up your outdoor spaces with seasonal chic. Look for evergreens and conifers as well as mums, pansies, sedum and snapdragons and flowering, ornamental kale and cabbage. Be sure to fill them tightly into their containers, as plants don't grow as fast during the short winter daylight hours. And don't forget that any sort of container that is porous (e.g., ceramic, terracotta or clay) can freeze and crack over the winter, so use pots made out of more durable materials.
If buying new plants for your backyard makeover isn't in the budget, take a look at the ones you've got in your current containers and swap them out with one another for a fresh take on old favorites. Before you move anything, however, water them thoroughly, wait for a day, and then remove anything you don't want to keep with a serrated trowel or soil knife. Take the plants you have left and rearrange them in groups in your new containers, fill them in with soil and a bit of general-purpose fertilizer, water them and voila! You've created a whole new look without much time or money!
4. Light It Up.
Darkness and cooler weather go hand in hand. Get the most out of your backyard (or really any type of space you want to refresh) by adding different types of lights throughout it. Key to your ‘glow up' are floodlights, which are great for dark corners or dramatic plantings, string lights – including globes and twinkly holiday strands in white or coordinated colors – and either real or LED candles.
When budget is an issue (and when isn't it?), there are many ways to corral household items into makeshift lanterns. One idea is to tie twine around the top glass edges of mason jars, pop an LED tealight inside each one, and then hang them from tree branches, balconies, fence posts, or even inside. You can hang just one or two or group them together for a sort of chandelier. Of course, if mason jars aren't your thing, consider using anything glass or metal that will let the light shine through.
If you're ready to take your DIY backyard remodeling skills up a notch, Lowe's has a really simple online tutorial about how to make globe string lights that will add texture and interest to your bare trees (or bare ceilings!) well into next spring. All you'll need is fencing wire, wire snippers, mini-bulb string lights, and last summer's beach ball to help create the ‘globe,' so head over to your local hardware store (or your CubeSmart contact-free storage unit) and grab the supplies necessary to get crackin'.
5. Bust Out the Coats.
The beginning of fall is the perfect time to take on those painting and sealing projects you've put off all summer. The days still get hot and bright enough to properly dry the surfaces – and the paints – but aren't so hot that you'll be uncomfortable during the project. Win-win!
Outdoor paints for concrete are a quick and relatively easy way to spruce up your slabs. Just be sure to choose a concrete or masonry paint that has been designed for use underfoot, properly prepare the slab with a low-pressure power wash, etch it with muriatic acid, and presto! You've got all the ingredients for a DIY redo of your concrete pads and porches.
Fences, planter boxes, and anything else made of wood in your backyard oasis can also be revived with one coat of quality paint or seal to provide protection from winter elements. Why only one coat? Simple: according to the experts, one is enough to make a big visual impact and help extend the lives of your wooden pieces. Save the second coat for spring to freshen up the look as the weather warms.
Backyard makeovers are not just limited to spring and early summer. Heck, they're not even limited to backyards! Maximize your enjoyment of your exterior by creating an oasis that can be used as the nights lengthen and the mercury drops. And if you decide to DIY rather than hiring it out, you may be surprised at how inventive you can get with items laying around your house – or your storage unit. Whatever you do, don't forget to share pictures and tag @CubeSmart on Instagram and Facebook. We can't wait to see it!