10 DIY projects to spruce up your courtyard or patio for summer
Summer outdoor lifestyles should be enhanced by outdoor living spaces that reflect your style, interests and creature comforts. For every DIYer who’s wished their yard was big enough for all their decorating ideas; here’s how to fit big ideas into little spaces.
1. DIY cushion covers
OK...who can sew?
For those with a sewing machine, you've probably already made your own home wares from carefully picked fabrics. For those who never learnt to sew or have forgotten the way of needle and thread, sewing isn't just a skill that extends the life cycle of socks!
Cushion covers are an extremely easy (and forgiving) item to make and provide the perfect opportunity to get some sewing techniques under your belt. Re-purpose old clothes, doilies, quilts or tablecloths with beautiful patterns for some fresh, funky throw cushions! For seasoned sewers, try your hand at crochet, embroidery and reversible/flip sequin designs.
Just make sure that your cushions are under cover or weatherproof!
2. Climbers, creepers and vertical gardens
Find a way to add more greenery for a breath of life. Plants are the easiest way to freshen up the atmosphere! For tight spaces, climbers like ivy or passionfruit vines can transform support columns or trellises.
For an easy garden wall, vertical planters can be installed to the wall or strung by rope or macramé for an added textile feature. For the more crafty DIYers, try re-purposing pipes, plastic bottles and picture frames for a truly unique green wall!
3. Twinkle, twinkle
You don't have to be an electrician to add lighting to your outdoor space. Whether it's an overhead string of festoon lights, a net of fairy lights against a wall or copper wire string lights spiralling around plant stems and poles, they are a mystical and cost effective way to add some ambience to your space for those warm summer nights spend out in the fresh air.
For table lights, create custom candle holders and lanterns with up-cycled items, like mason jars, wine or beer bottles, perforated cans, planks of raw wood, yarn and even pegs! If you're in a bush fire zone and nervous about open flames during the dry season, opt for battery operated candles.
4. Urban jungle
Garden beds make gorgeous borders to outdoor spaces, but when you're already space-challenged, they can really encroach on your usable living spaces. Sunken gardening strips can be a great way to maximise floor space whilst still enjoying a lush border, and can also make excellent use of rainwater, if the flooring is designed to drain into the garden.
Sunken gardens are most easily accomplished before tiling your courtyard or patio, however tiles can be carefully removed, resized and re-positioned if necessary.
5. Let it flow
For those who are up for a little renovation project, a DIY sliding or folding door that connects your inside and outside areas is the perfect addition for a fluid indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Simply throw open the door and seamlessly add your courtyard or patio area to your living room to create a single, large open space.
Whilst perfect for breezes and scenic views, it's not always great for homes with persistent bugs - explore pest control solutions, such as perimeter sprays and ultrasonic pest repeller devices, to avoid getting eaten alive by mozzies.
6. Pack it up, pack it in
The biggest design hack for any small space is secret storage. If your furniture can double as a tool shed, outdoor fridge or pool-toy-box, you can really start to maximise your space.
DIY bench chests are super simple to build and can be stained or painted in the same colour as your other furniture. Add those funky DIY cushions you just finished sewing and you've simultaneously added extra seating for guests and hidden storage for all those gardening and BBQ tools!
7. Fire away
Firepits are commonly thought of as an outdoor feature for cooler months, but what could be better than watching flames dance around on a beautiful summer's night? Whether it's a compact alternative for a BBQ or just something to sit around, a small firepit is sure to add value to your outdoor lifestyle.
With DIY fire pit designs ranging from recycled washing machine drums, to rustic campfire rock circles, to old charcoal BBQ grills, there's something for every outdoor space, big or small. Simply ensure that it isn't positioned where it may damage a roofed structure or trap smoke.
8. Pots and pansies
Planter boxes make great decorative elements to sit beside seating areas, line a boundary or brighten up an empty corner. Create your own with old wooden boxes, steel buckets, spice racks, wheelbarrows, vintage suitcases, charcoal grills, step ladders, raw tree stumps — basically, anything that can hold pots or water and dirt!
For this time of year, make sure you choose summer-hardy plants; cacti and succulents are amazing for Australian summers and hardy natives are always a safe bet.
9. Keep it cool
Whilst soaking up the sun's rays can be glorious in the summertime, it can also blind you, burn you, and leave you uncomfortably sticky. A drop down or retractable shade can save your afternoon chill out and provide some refuse from the biting sun.
There are a number of ways to incorporate the shade to a pergola or roof structure — use colourful, patterned sheets for a bohemian vibe, linen or canvas curtains with ties for a casual, beachy look or a fine mesh roller blind for a sleek, upmarket solution.
10. Happiness is a hammock
The scoop and sway of a hammock has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve breathing, sleep and concentration. Plus, they're downright relaxing.
Watch this simple video tutorial on how to make your own DIY hammock, or decorate a basic hammock with different textiles, like fabric strips, macrame, tassels, beads and fringe.
Check out our winter outdoor entertaining tips and be prepared all year round!
Want a little more DIY inspiration? Explore our 10 DIY Outdoor Wall Art Projects, DIY projects to create a kid’s dream backyard and a guide to planning your DIY retaining wall project.
Written by Evelyn Kandris
Transform your courtyard into a peaceful oasis this summer with a stylish boundary wall.