John Riha courtesy of realtor.com
Published: July 13, 2012
Get your kids outside and spark their creativity with fun,
simple home improvement projects. Plus, you’ll boost your curb appeal.
If you’re looking for ways to unplug your children and get them some fresh
air, try these engaging outdoor projects. You’ll introduce them to a little
pride of home ownership while adding some finishing touches that’ll ramp up
your home’s curb appeal.
When making stuff with kids, remember the Keep-It rules:
- Keep it safe. Use gloves and safety glasses when necessary.
- Keep it simple. They’ll come away with a sense of accomplishment if it’s a
project they can handle easily.
- Keep it under an hour. Kids’ attention spans are short.
This classic kids’ project never gets old — it’s gooey, messy, and arty.
You’ll make the stones using ready-mix concrete or mortar; a 40-lb. bag makes
3-5 stones. Make your own forms with wood, or use old pans, aluminum cake
pans, or anything that’ll create a 2-inch-thick stone.
While the concrete is still wet, decorate with
beads, tiles, marbles, and polished pebbles. Wait 48 hours until the concrete
is dry to remove it from the form.
Cost: A 40-lb. bag
of ready-mix mortar is $6.
2. Painting your mailbox
Put a little sizzle in your snail mail when you let your kids paint the
Un-mount the box and clean it first. When dry, give it a coat
of metal primer, then let your kids’ muse take over. Inexpensive craft store
stencils help keep designs on track. Take the kids to the store and let them
pick out designs. Don’t forget to include house numbers.
Cost: Primer, $5; acrylic craft paints, $20-$40 set of 10
colors; plastic stencils, $1-$2 each.
3. Planting a shrub that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
There’s some delayed gratification with this project — the payoff doesn’t
happen until the critters find the shrub — but the fun factor is high when they
Keep the digging to a minimum — one or two plants are plenty. Make
a generous hole and have the kids fill it with outdoor potting soil, and put
them in charge of watering as the plant roots in. Hold a contest to see who
spots the first wildlife visitor.
Nectar-producing shrubs that attract
hummingbirds include Hibiscus, flowering quince (Chaenomeles), and Lantana.
Butterflies like butterfly bush (Buddleja) and
Cost: $10-$30 per shrub; a bag of potting
soil is $9.
4. Building a garden gate arbor
It’s easier than it sounds. You’ll find simple DIY kits at home improvement
centers that you and your team can put together in 1 to 2 hours. If that
challenges younger kids’ attention span limit, let them wander away for a bit,
then call them back when it’s done. They’ll love carrying the finished arbor
to the garden and setting it in the ground.
$150-$250 for a wooden kit.
5. Adding solar lights
This is one of the easiest projects. Gather up some solar walkway lights —
the kind mounted on a stake — and have your kids put them along your sidewalk,
paths, and at the edge of garden beds. When the sun goes down, they’ll get a
kick out of seeing the lights switch on.
lighting comes in all styles and prices, but you’ll find an 8-pack of solar
stake lights under $50 at your home improvement center.
6. Stacking a tipsy-pot plant tower
Here’s a great optical illusion that kids will really dig. Stick a ½-inch
diameter wooden dowel or piece of copper pipe firmly into the ground or a big
pot. Put clay pots of various sizes onto the pipe, threading the pipe through
the drain holes. Fill the pots with soil and tilt them at crazy angles — the
rod holds all the pots upright. Plant easy-care impatiens or
Cost: Copper pipe
is about $3 per foot; an 8-inch-high clay pot is $4.
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