With warmer weather around the corner, our backyards are slowly coming back to life.
Flowers are blooming, grass is growing, and soon, it will be safe to bring out the patio furniture.
But for those green thumbs out there, spring is also a time for plotting and figuring out a backyard project. Maybe it’s time to redo that wobbly fence or take your grilling skills to the next level.
Brian McCourt, HGTV Canada contractor and designer for Backyard Builds, told Global News when it comes to backyard projects, there is one common mistake people make.
“They start with one project, (and then) they do another project the next year and another project next year… but they didn’t plan it all at the same time,” he explained.
“I always tell people (what) to do is to plan your full backyard or your dream backyard and then break it into phases,” he continued. “The best place to start is the closest to the house.”
McCourt recommended starting with a deck, for example, and only committing to one summer project per year.
“You’re not putting too much pressure on yourself and if you have more time, you can add to it,” he said.
Below, McCourt and other backyard experts help us break down budgets for creating your dream yard in 2019. We also get insight into some of the best ways to tackle each project.
McCourt said decks can take some time to build, depending on the type of DIY-er you are. The average builder, he added, should be able to get a small-sized deck up in a week.
“I generally tell people not to build below a 10-by-10 deck, because it is not a very usable space,” he said.
Speaking with Global News, Home Depot’s deck and fence expert Jim Hutton said that before building a small-sized deck (12 feet by 12 feet), it’s important to think about materials, sun exposure and the height of the deck.
“The number 1 thing to consider is what they will use it for — if they have a hot tub, want an outdoor kitchen, entertaining area,” he explained. “People are also really into deck lighting right now — it helps create the dream deck people are after.”
Materials include natural wood (this requires more maintenance like staining or painting), which can last up to 25 years. Decks with natural wood can cost as little as $1,200 to build, Hutton said.
WATCH: What the deck — Finishing touches
“Composite is a synthetic material designed to look like wooden planks but will last significantly longer and comes in colours and finishing that resembles stained or painted wood,” he continued. “Composite decks can have a warranty for 25 years (and) can cost between $3,000 and $20,000.”
Hutton said people are now trying to extend their homes outside.
“We now see deck sizes getting larger as people are beginning to see the deck as an extension of their home and can include outdoor kitchens, dining areas and general entertainment,” he explained.
McCourt said a 10-foot-by-10-foot deck can cost $4,000 to $6,000. Hutton added that a ground-level deck can be done for $1,200. Again, this all will depend on the size of the deck and the material you use.
If you love barbecuing in the summer, building your own custom grill pit may be a good idea for a summer project. Of course, this one can be costly, McCourt said, but for those who have a sizable budget and the space to do it, it can be a great entertaining space.
McCourt said that for this project, make sure you look into buying the right materials for the climate in your city. You have to deal with not only rain but, in many Canadian cities, snow.
DIY Network added that a brick barbecue may be a good place to start — you would need gravel, metal grates and mortar.
Something this custom could start at $1,000 and easily go up to $20,000, McCourt said. To save money, try pouring your own cement and building your own frames.
Gardening is also another summer pastime. For those of you who aren’t ready for a large-scale project, start with a small garden.
Home Depot’s gardening expert Mark Beaty told Global News to consider an enclosed garden that’s three feet wide, five feet long and two feet deep to start.
Start by investing in the right soil and figure out how much sunlight will hit your garden.
“Plants that do well in a sun/shade mix include annuals such as begonias and New Guinea impatiens,” he explained. “Hostas are perennials that do well in shaded areas. Otherwise, most plants, flowers, herbs and vegetables flourish in direct sunlight.”
McCourt said that if you are building a frame with pressure-treated wood, know that, in the long-run, it will rot.
“I’ll line the inside with waterproof membrane so it seals it,” he said, adding that when the soil is wet, it will not damage the wood.
Depending on where you live in Canada, you can plant anything from flowers to trees to fresh veggies.
“A beautiful, small garden can get growing for as little as $75, which will get you the required amount of soil, hand shovels, gardening gloves and plant food,” Beaty said. “Costs will rise depending on the quality of soil and range of flowers or vegetables.”
McCourt said there are two ways to create a fire pit.
“You can buy a gas fireplace or a propane-based fireplace,” he said. “When you move, you can move (the propane) on with you.”
You can also build a sunken-in fireplace, which requires a bit more work. Experts at Lowe’s Canada noted that before beginning any excavation, it’s important to make sure you are aware of underground utilities.
“Also, before you buy materials or begin work, check local building codes, ordinances and homeowner association guidelines to make sure that fire pits are allowed,” the site noted.
A sunken fire pit requires a paver base, concrete blocks, levelling sand and patio stones.
Depending on the size, these can run from $500 to $1,500, McCourt said.
“An average to small backyard will have three-sided fencing of approximately 90 to100 feet… but this varies depending on where you live,” Hutton said. “This is another situation that requires decisions around what kind of wood you’ll want to use or whether you want to use a different material like aluminum, ornamental iron or vinyl.”
He added that, generally, fences are pressure-treated wood.
“People generally prefer to spend money on deck (as) opposed to fencing,” he said.
McCourt said this all depends on the length, size and materials of your fence.
Again, this depends on the size of the shed and the regulations within your city. In Ontario, McCourt said, the maximum size of a shed without a permit is 10 feet by 10 feet.
According to the Family Handyman, building a shed starts with a foundation and a floor of concrete.
“For a shed floor that’s strong, long-lasting and low to the ground, it’s hard to beat concrete. Surprisingly, if you pour the slab yourself, the price is comparable to that of a wood platform,” the site notes.
McCourt said you should budget up to $5,000 in materials for a custom small shed. One 2019 report found the average cost (in the U.S.) was $2,400.
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