4 Ways to Build a Better Backyard for the Kids This Summer

Photo: homedit.com/diy-tree-swing/

Photo: homedit.com/diy-tree-swing/

Spring and summer months are finally here, and the warmer weather is perfect for spending time outside. Instead of traveling far for entertainment, read on to learn the best ways to transform your backyard so that you can enjoy the perks of summer without ever leaving your home.

1. Tree swing

If you have a tree, then this afternoon project is an easy way to encourage children to spend time outside, and for you to create a nice breeze during those sticky summer days. The best part? You’ll need a few supplies, but overwhelming carpentry experience isn’t one of them. Read on as we break down the steps from homedit.com.

What you’ll need:

  • One 2 x 4 x 8 piece of wood for the seat
  • One 1 x 2 x 8 piece of wood for the top
  • Rope long enough to hang from your branch and strong enough to support adult weight
  • Wood glue
  • 2 clamps
  • A drill
  • 8 wood screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint

To begin: Start by cutting the 2 x 4 x 8 piece of wood into two parts measuring 2.5 feet long. Then cut another two pieces, this time measuring 8 inches long. Glue the two longer pieces together and then the shorter ones to the ends. Clamp and put heavy objects on top of them. When it’s dry, pre-drill screw holes in each of the four corners of the short pieces. Also drill two holes in the outer corners of each end. Now you can sand and paint the wood if you want to.

To finish: Cut two lengths of rope measuring 5 feet long and attach them to the seat. Tie a double knot at one end and on the other end as well. Repeat the process for the other side of the seat as well. Then cut the rest of the rope in half. Create a loop and attach it to the swing with one of the chain quick links. Do the same for the other side. Now cut the 1 x 2 x 8 pieces and make them 2.5 feet long. Drill a hole in each end and, about 5 feet above the seat, tie a knot in each rope. Slip the loose end through the tope and tie the ends to the tree branch.

Tip: Look for a tree that is in open ground, and that has a thick, live-wood limb which is growing parallel to — and not too high off — the ground, for a suitable swinging experience.

Photo: instructables.com

Photo: instructables.com

2. Sprinkler

Beating the heat is one of summer’s top objectives, and what better way to stay cool than in a sprinkler that you build yourself? Follow along as we go through these instructions.

What you’ll need:

  • Two 10 foot lengths of PVC (Recommended is 3/4-inch but feel free to use other sizes — just be sure your fittings are the same dimension)
  • 3 end caps
  • 1 threaded hose connector
  • 2 elbow joints (90 degree)
  • 2 T connections
  • PVC Cement

Tools

  • A drill
  • 1/16- or 3/32-inch drill bits
  • Saw (e.g. fret saw, hack saw, Sawzall)
  • Measuring tape

To begin: Cut one of the 10 foot lengths in half so that you have two 5 foot sections. Then, cut a 4 foot section from the second one. Cut the remaining 6 foot section in half and then each of the 3 foot sections in half. You will need the following sections and sizes: two at 5 feet; one at 4 feet; and four at 18 inches.

Start with the feet to begin gluing. Take one of the 18 inch sections and an end cap. Dab some glue inside the lip of the end cap and around the outside edge of the piece and stick the cap on. Repeat this two more times for two more of the 18 inch pieces. On the fourth one, attach the threaded hose attachment piece.

To finish: Repeat the process of putting cement inside the T joins and on the PVC lengths and sticking them together.

Photo: geeksugar.com

Source: geeksugar.com

3. Portable movie screen

Ah, summer nights at the movies. Create your own version of the drive-in with this portable movie screen, which can be rolled up and stored when not in use.  

What you’ll need:

  • 8 x 3 inch pieces of 1 inch PVC pipe
  • 6 x 1 inch PVC pipe couplings
  • 4 x 1 inch PVC pipe end caps
  • 10 x 1 inch PVC snap clamps

Hanging hardware

  • Hooks to hang the frame from
  • Cinching straps to wrap around the PVC pipe frame
  • D-rings

To begin: Decide on your screen size and buy appropriately — recommended is rubber-coated blackout shade fabric. Put pipe together. Place a D-ring under each cinch strap and hang from a hook screwed into the eaves. Be sure to test the frame once and mark the straps and pieces for future reference.

If you’re particular about frayed edges, then sew parallel seams along both sides of the folded portion for minimal disruption in the surface of the fabric. Make a casing for the PVC pipe by first measuring — wrap the top edge of the screen around the coupler — and then pin and sew a straight stitch, making a tube through which to slip the frame.

Next, lay your top frame piece on top of the casing and snip slots for the D-rings to hang through. These snipped pieces can simply be folded under as shown.

Photo: ziggityzoom.com

Photo: ziggityzoom.com

4. Teepee

To escape the glare of the warm sun, build a backyard respite where kids can read, play, and hide. Read on as we break down the steps to building your own teepee from bobvila.com.

What you’ll need:

  • Nine 10 inch poles (bamboo poles are best)
  • Canvas painter’s drop cloth (12 x 15 inch heavy duty)
  • Lightweight cord or rope
  • Five sticks 9 inches long
  • Two sticks 6 inches long
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Garden clippers
  • Permanent colored markers

To begin: Lay the canvas drop cloth flat on the grass. Find the center-top of the long end of the cloth and make a mark. Tie a marker onto the end of a string and holding the marker upright at side-top of the cloth’s long end, stretch the string to the center point and cut it. Your string should be 7.5 inches long. Hold the string at center point firmly, while a second person makes an arc with the marker to denote the cut line. (The finished cut size equates to the length being twice as long as the width.)

Choose a spot for the teepee and set the first three poles in place as your teepee base, crossing the tips of the poles at the top, as if you are making a tripod. Now add two poles between each of the base poles; try to position them sturdily by paying attention to how they cross at the top. Add the last pole to the ‘back side’ of your teepee. Spread the pole bottoms evenly around the ground.

Then, remove the last pole from the back and attach the top-center of the cloth about a foot from the top. Since this is temporary, you can just make a ring of duct tape and attach the inside of the cloth to the poles.

Pull the sides of the cloth around the poles, overlapping at the top of the teepee’s front. Make two slits to accommodate each 9 foot stick, making sure the cuts go through both pieces of overlapped cloth. Slits should be about 3 feet to 4 feet apart. Weave a stick into the openings and secure the teepee front. To make the opening, fold the side flaps open and make two slits to accommodate the 6 foot sticks.

To finish: Use markers (or paint, if desired) to decorate the outside of your teepee.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: