by Mike Morris
Jazzing up your outdoor spaces doesn't have to take a lot of time or money. With a little thought and creativity, you can add some color, style and personality to your yard this weekend and enjoy the beauty all summer long.
Whether it's a drab deck, plain patio or lifeless lawn that's screaming for an upgrade, there are many simple products that can breathe life into any outdoor living space. Here are 10 yard decorating ideas under $100 to inspire your inner outdoor decorator.
Nothing brings out the kid in someone faster than swinging from a tree on a lazy day. The installation is as easy as picking a sturdy branch, installing a heavy duty eye bolt and hanging the swing from it. You can even make your own swing using a rope or chain and any number of seating materials: wood planks, canvas pieces and old car tires make great substitutes for store-bought swings.
Don't have a tree that's just right? Hang a loveseat-style swing on your front porch or set a patio swing or glider in your favorite shady spot in the yard.
Add some architectural flair to your yard or garden with an arbor, archway or trellis. Arbors are perfect for framing the entry to a garden, yard or walkway. Get a similar effect by placing two trellises across from each other on a walkway or in a garden.
Plant a decorative vine or climbing ivy at the base to add color and natural appeal. Hang decorative yard and garden ornaments, such as butterflies, ladybugs and bumblebees to dress it up a bit.
You don't have to be a bird watcher to appreciate the calming effect birds can bring to your yard. Attract them by adding a bird bath to your yard, garden, deck or patio. You can easily attach a hanging birdbath to tree branches or eaves using heavy duty hooks. Heavy duty shepherd's hooks also work well, and you can place them anywhere in your yard or garden.
Place a pedestal bird bath in the center of your yard on a square paver for a classic focal point. Pedestals also look right at home in the corner of your yard. Border it off and add decorative stone, mulch or tree bark to form a stunning bird oasis.
Installing solar lights, torches, hanging lights and floodlights around your yard not only dresses it up at night, but also makes your property more secure. Solar lights look great lining a front walkway, bordering a patio or spread throughout a garden. Torches add an earthy feel to an entertainment or seating area.
Hang strings of decorative lights between trees or from your house to a tree for a festive, party atmosphere. Smartly placed flood lights can highlight your home's architectural features or landscaping.
Attach a flagpole near the front door and fly the flag of your choice all summer long; or change it out for special occasions, events and holidays. The American flag is the patriotic choice, but always follow the code of standards and respect, which you can get at www.usflag.org.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, there are hundreds of styles of flags now on the market. Popular options include sports team flags, college flags and nature-themed flags. Show pride in your heritage by hanging that country's flag. State flags are also available.
Do you enjoy roasting marshmallows or hot dogs on a cool summer evening? Then add a fire pit to your backyard. You can put a fire pit almost anywhere, but avoid putting them beneath overhead power and utility lines or low hanging tree branches and awnings. Stay clear of your garage, house or shed because the heat can melt siding and the sparks can cause fires.
You can make your own fire pit in a corner of your yard by digging a shallow hole and simply circling it with brick pavers or medium size landscaping rocks.
The soft twinkling of a wind chime is one of the unmistakable sounds of summer — like the hum of a distant lawn mower or the cheerful chirp of a songbird. Hang a wind chime from the eave outside your kitchen window and you can hear it whether you're inside or out.
Hang louder chimes farther from the house for a more distant sound. A tree is always a good choice, but the eave of your garage or a shepherd's hook work well, too.
Does your concrete patio or wood deck look old and tired? Spruce it up with some instant color by coating it with exterior paint or stain. Use a porch, floor and deck enamel or an oil-based stain for durability and lasting color. You can also paint wood or metal deck chairs for a splash of color.
If you don't want to paint the whole patio or deck, just paint the deck railings or use a stencil to paint a border, add a pattern or accentuate a seating area. For the best adhesion, wash the area and let it dry completely before painting.
Hanging a birdhouse is another great way to attract feathered friends to your yard and add a stylish accent. You have many choices, from rustic to contemporary and everything in between. Buy an unfinished birdhouse and paint or stain it so it's your favorite color or matches other decorative accents.
Birdhouses can be hung from a tree branch or eave or attached to the top of a metal pole or column. Different types of houses will attract different birds; if you want to attract a certain type of bird, ask for advice at your local garden center.
A gazing ball adds a decorative element right where you want it, whether it's in a rose garden or smack dab in the middle of your backyard. Gazing balls come in many styles and colors to match your outdoor décor.
Hang a gazing ball from a tree branch, eave, arbor or shepherd's hook and watch the sun's rays dance off the glass. Or, place one on a gazing ball stand in a garden, on a deck, on a patio or in a landscaped area of your yard. Gazing balls are fragile, so don't put them near areas where children play or dogs romp.
Manage My Life editor Mike Morris put a fire pit in his backyard last fall by digging a shallow hole and encircling it with brick pavers he found behind the garage. Total time: half hour. Total cost: $0. Total enjoyment: infinite.